Sedation Dentistry - What Are the Different Options Available?


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Whether it's for a simple teeth cleaning session, filling, or more extensive root canal to save an infected tooth, millions of us avoid going to the dentist every year because of anxiety or fear

Fortunately, sedation dentistry (or "sleep dentistry"), can help make the experience for dental-phobic patients more relaxing with the use of various medications and techniques. 

Level of Sedation

Sedation dentistry is generally not used or advised unless a patient makes a specific request (or is clearly suffering from anxiety), in which case, the method used will depend on the level of fear.

For instance, a minimal level of sedation will help patients feel relaxed while still completely awake; moderate (or "conscious") sedation may cause slurring; deep sedation puts patients on the edge of consciousness, and general anesthesia is used to carry out a procedure while a patient is completely unconscious. 

Note: Local and general anesthesia are commonly used when a surgical procedure, like dental implants, would otherwise be painful if the patient were to be awake.

If you are a nervous dental patient or in need of extensive dental care, read below to find what sedation options are available at our verified dental providers around the world

Types of Dental Sedation

Oral Sedatives: For patients who have dental phobias or anxiety, orally administered sedation is an excellent option, and is widely available. Oral sedatives are safe and inexpensive, usually costing around $10 extra at our partner clinics.

Medications such as Valium can be provided to calm nerves and provide you a worry-free dental experience. Oral sedatives are widely available with dentists worldwide and can be requested at the office or purchased at a local pharmacy nearby, with or without a prescription depending on local laws.

Oral sedatives will not completely knock you out—you will still be conscious—but they do provide mental calm and tranquility to quell nerves during treatment. Some patients are relaxed enough by oral sedatives to fall asleep during treatment.

IV Sedation: IV (intravenous) sedation, or deep conscious sedation, is a highly effective method of sedation for your treatment with a dentist abroad.

Sedative medications are administered into the bloodstream under the care of a licensed anesthesiologist. You remain alert enough to respond to simple instructions, which may be helpful to the oral surgeon; however, you will remember almost nothing about the dental treatment. This is much safer than general anesthesia.

A medical evaluation with the anesthesiologist will need to be carried out prior to commencing care to ensure that you are a good candidate for this type of sedation. Sedation and treatment can usually be scheduled for the next day. IV sedation will likely cost several hundred dollars to administer since an anesthesiologist must be available to provide this treatment.

Gas Sedation (Nitrous Oxide): Nitrous oxide, also informally as "laughing gas," is used to induce a state of relaxation. A local anesthetic will be administered in combination with nitrous oxide to eliminate pain and worry. In Western countries, this is the most commonly used type of dental sedation.

Often, the patient will fall asleep during treatment and have no recollection of the dental procedure being carried out. Nitrous oxide dental sedation is available at select dental offices globally. Gas sedation usually costs between $50-$150 per hour.

Oral Conscious Sedation: Oral conscious sedation or “sleep dentistry” is something you may be familiar with or have been offered by your local dentist. With this type of sedation, a "cocktail" of several orally administered pills is provided to sedate you for treatment. Oral conscious sedation is not really anesthesia; rather, the patient is awake during treatment but generally retains little or no memory of the experience.

This type of sedation is not generally available abroad. While it can be a safe and effective method, it is still a much-debated treatment protocol in the Western countries.

General Anesthesia: With general anesthesia, you are completely unconscious during surgery. This must be administered in a hospital setting under the care of an anesthesiologist. It is rather expensive and generally unnecessary unless a surgical mouth reconstruction is being undertaken. This option is rarely sought after abroad, although patients undergoing extensive treatment at dental centers within larger hospital complexes may have the option available. 

Oral sedatives, IV sedation, and laughing gas sedation are much more widely available, safer, and less expensive.

Local Anesthesia: Local anesthesia (numbing or freezing) is used for dental treatments that can cause any pain or discomfort. While this is not a type of "sedation" dentistry in itself, it is often used in combination with some type of medication to put the patient at more ease. 

More Information

Fear of the dentist is not a reason to put off going, especially when considering the number of safe and affordable sedation options that are now widely available.

To learn more about the types of sedation dentistry available at our global dental providers, feel free to contact our Customer Care Team via phone, email, online chat or social media. 


Dental implant surgery. Mayo Clinic. 29 January 2019.

Full Mouth Reconstruction. Your Dentistry Guide. Website accessed: 12 January 2021.

Sedation Dentistry: Can You Really Relax in the Dentist's Chair? WebMD. Website accessed: 12 January 2021.

Easing Dental Fear in Adults. WebMD. Website accessed: 12 January 2021.

Auger, Steve. Dental Anesthesia Side Effects And Causes For Treatment. Website accessed: 12 January 2021.

George William Gibson

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This article is meant for information purposes only and is not intended to be dental advice or instructions for dental diagnosis or treatment. Please consult with your dentist or a qualified dental professional before starting or changing dental treatment