It’s all about comfort

If you feel anxious about visiting the dentist, you’re not alone. A lot of people experience varying levels of fear or anxiety before or during their dental appointments. Some of them avoid going to the dentist unless they absolutely have to. Others just control their anxiety enough to make it through but are never able to relax until the appointment is over.

If this sounds familiar to you, IV sedation dentistry might help alleviate some of your anxiety and make it possible for you to finally relax at the dentist.

What Is IV Sedation Dentistry?

Although sometimes referred to as “sleep dentistry,” IV sedation dentistry doesn’t usually put you to sleep. What it does do is help you relax. It is common for more invasive procedures or cosmetic dentistry. Outside of being unconscious during general anesthesia, IV sedation dentistry has varying levels of consciousness:

  • Minimal: You are definitely awake, but relaxed
  • Moderate: You might not remember much about the procedure or have some slurred speech while the medication is in effect
  • Deep: It’s possible to awaken you, but you are on the edge of being unconscious

Some Background: Types of Medication in Sedation Dentistry


The medication your dentist may use depends on the invasiveness of the procedure and your personal preference. For minimal sedation, you might inhale nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas.” Mixed with oxygen, this gas will help you relax without making you go to sleep.


Oral sedation could be used to just relax you or put you into a moderately sedated state. You’ll simply take a pill, usually Halcion. You may be drowsy but usually, stay awake. The pill should be taken about an hour prior to your procedure, and the level of sedation will depend on the dose.


IV sedation dentistry should never be confused with general anesthesia. In IV sedation dentistry, your dentist can actually control your level of relaxation or consciousness through an IV inserted into a vein. This means the medication works quickly, and your sedation level will be adjustable during the procedure. But an IV does not necessarily equate to being asleep.

Is IV Sedation Dentistry Right for Me?

This could be the right choice for you if:

  • You want to reduce your anxiety
  • You aren’t overly anxious about needles
  • You want to be relaxed and comfortable, but not asleep
  • You want your dentist to be able to adjust your comfort level during the procedure
  • You don’t want to remember the procedure, but want to be able to respond to questions while it is happening

IV sedation dentistry is common for things like root canals, tooth extraction, implants, or smile reconstruction. If you have cosmetic dentistry concerns, Aesthetic Smile Reconstruction in Waltham, MA makes IV sedation dentistry available to you. Dr. Charles Sutera is a Board Certified Sedation Dentist in the Boston Metro area, and a national leader in Sedation Dentistry. Contact us for more information.