Can You Benefit from Dental Sedation?

If you suffer from dental anxiety, take heart. You have a lot of company. Fear of dental procedures is very common. Many affected patients report that what they fear is pain, but often, a patient is simply made uncomfortable by the feeling of vulnerability and helplessness they experience while in the dentist’s chair. If you have delayed visiting your dentist out of fear or apprehension, we’re happy to inform you that we offer both nitrous oxide and oral conscious sedation dentistry to help.

Some Common Causes of Dental Anxiety:

  • Fear of pain. The fear of pain is the most common reason that patients cite for avoiding dental visits. This fear can be caused by a past bad dental experience or by stories of other people’s painful dental procedures. However, advances in modern dental technology have rendered most dental procedures nowadays painless.
  • Fear of injections/fear of ineffective or insufficient anesthetic. The mere idea of a hypodermic needle makes many patients uneasy, especially when used in the mouth. In addition, some patients express hesitation because they fear the anesthesia will be ineffective at preventing pain once the procedure has begun.
  • Fear of, or discomfort regarding the anesthetic’s side effects. Some patients are afraid of the potential side effects of anesthesia such as dizziness, light-headedness, or nausea. Others dislike the numbness or “fat lip” feeling that one gets from local anesthetics.
  • Helplessness and loss of control. Some patients may panic at the feeling of allowing someone else to work in their mouth, especially because they cannot see what is going on.
  • Embarrassment and loss of personal space. Some patients are uncomfortable with the dentist and/or hygienist being so close to their faces, having someone else’s hands in their mouths, etc. Additionally, patients may experience embarrassment due to fear of mouth odors or because of the state of the dental health.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

As the name suggests, it’s the use of calming medications to make your dental visit care-free. At Baldwin Distinctive Dentistry we offer both conscious oral sedation (in the form of a few pills) and nitrous oxide (commonly known as “laughing gas”) for patients who otherwise would avoid necessary dental treatments.

Nitrous Oxide:

Patients with low-to-moderate- levels of dental anxiety can take advantage of nitrous oxide sedation. This odorless gas with a slightly sweet taste is administered before your dental treatment is begun so that you can relax while your dental procedure is performed. Laughing gas is both safe and convenient. You will remain conscious and capable of responding to the dentist’s requests. It is short-acting; the effects wear off quickly when your treatment is over, so you can go about your day as usual after your treatment.

Oral Conscious Sedation:

If your dental anxiety is more serious than that which can be addressed with nitrous oxide, we can still help. Oral conscious sedation is very useful for patients who need more help relaxing than nitrous oxide can provide. As the name implies, this method involves the use of oral sedatives. If Dr. Baldwin determines that this type of medication is right for you, he will prescribe a couple of pills, one for you to take the night before your procedure, as well as another that you will take at a prescribed interval before your appointment time. This is to help you wake rested and stress-free, and to remain so during your procedure. Most patients remain awake and able to comply with the dentist’s requests, though sometimes patients are relaxed enough to drop off to sleep.

This option can also be used for patients whose treatment will require a long time in the dentist’s chair. It can make it easier for a patient to get a complex  or multi-step treatment completed in one visit.


  • Are oral sedatives safe? Yes. It has been used for over 30 years by many dentists for millions of patients.
  • Who can take advantage of this dental anxiety treatment? Patients who will benefit from the practice will be considered for the type of medication that best suits the condition. However, like any medical or dental procedure, it’s not right for everyone. Patients who are in reasonably good health and have no drug allergies or interactions can usually use the medication.
  • Will I be asleep? Some patients do tend to fall asleep, but are easily woken in order to follow the dentist’s instructions.
  • Will I remember the procedure? Most patients experience amnesia regarding the dental procedure. For those with dental anxiety, this is the desired effect, since it does not reinforce the anxiety with memories of the procedure.
  • How long will the medication last? This depends on the patient, the dosage of medication, and the length of the procedure. You can expect to feel the effects for hours afterward, and will probably sleep it off.
  • Are there side effects? We strive to reduce side effects to a minimum, however, patients who use an oral sedative will experience drowsiness and probably will need to sleep. Nitrous oxide wears off quickly and produces few, if any, side effects.
  • Will I be able to drive? It depends. If you use nitrous oxide, you can drive yourself to and from the appointment. The effects wear off quickly when the flow of gas is stopped. If you need to use a pill, you will have to have someone bring you to your appointment and drive you home. We recommend that you have someone stay with you for a few hours after your procedure in case of complications.
  • What should I bring with me to my appointment? As mentioned above, you should plan to have someone drive you to and from your appointment. In addition, bring all medicines that you are currently taking with you, as well as any “comfort objects” that might help you remain calm.

A Few Words About Dental Phobia

Unfortunately, some patients have a severe, intense fear of dentistry that goes beyond the usual anxiety. If you experience feelings of panic or nausea, hyperventilation, have worrisome thoughts regarding dentistry that cause insomnia, you may have a true dental phobia. While sedation can help with this problem, dental phobia often requires the help of a qualified mental health care professional to be adequately addressed.

Don’t delay dental treatment because of fear or anxiety! Call Baldwin Distinctive Dentistry today to learn how we can help you have stress-free dentistry! We want to help keep your smile beautiful and healthy for life. We look forward to hearing from you.