Unlike anesthesia, which is used to relieve pain or may put patients to sleep for complex procedures, sedation focuses on treating anxiety and helping patients feel comfortable so that they can receive the care they need to keep their mouths healthy. Local anesthesia is still administered in most cases to help create a relaxing and pain-free sensation during treatment.
Most dentists use conscious sedation, a state that lets patients feel relaxed but also remain awake and able to respond to commands. Patients will not remember most of the procedure with this sedation, but can still respond to commands by the dentist, ensuring that the procedure is performed as efficiently as possible.
Conscious sedation may be administered through oral medication, which is the most commonly used form of sedation for dental treatments. Patients are given a prescription for a sedative to be taken the night before or an hour before your treatment to create a relaxed, anxiety-free state.
Patients will need someone to drive them to and from their appointment, and should avoid driving for the rest of the day after treatment. You may experience mild nausea from the sedation, but this usually passes quickly. Conscious sedation is considered safe and effective for most patients with a very low risk of complications.