The Different Types of Dental Sedation & Their Use Cases

When it comes to dental procedures, some patients may feel anxious or even fearful. This is perfectly normal! In fact, studies have shown that up to 20% of Americans avoid going to the dentist because of these feelings.

Thankfully, there are different types of sedation that can be used to help patients feel more relaxed during their appointment. Here, we will go over the different types of dental sedation and when they are typically used.

What is Dental Sedation?

Dental sedation is the use of medication to help patients relax during their dental procedure. There are different types of dental sedation, each of which can be used depending on the procedure being performed and the level of sedation the patient needs. Some types of dental sedation will make patients feel drowsy, while others will put them to sleep.

It is important to note that, even though patients may not be fully awake, they will still be able to respond to questions and follow commands from the dentist.

Types of Dental Sedation 

There are four main types of dental sedation: oral sedation, IV sedation, nitrous oxide, and general anesthesia.

1. Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide is a gas that is inhaled through a mask during dental procedures. It is the most common type of dental sedation, and it is also the safest. Nitrous oxide helps patients to relax and feel no pain during dental procedures. It does not put patients to sleep, and they will be able to hear and respond to the dentist. The effects of nitrous oxide wear off quickly, so patients will be able to drive themselves home after their dental procedure.

2. Oral Sedation

This type of sedation is taken by mouth in pill form. It can be used for procedures that are not too invasive, such as cleaning, fillings, and extractions. Oral sedation can also be used for more invasive procedures, such as root canals. The sedative will make you drowsy, but you will still be awake and able to respond to questions.

3. Intravenous Sedation

Intravenous sedation, also known as IV sedation, is a type of dental sedation that is administered through an IV. This type of sedation is typically used for more invasive procedures, such as wisdom teeth extractions. IV sedation is also sometimes used for patients who have a fear of needles.

4. General Anesthesia

This is the most invasive type of dental sedation. General anesthesia is used for very complex procedures or for patients who have a high level of anxiety. General anesthesia is administered through an IV, and it puts the patient to sleep. The patient will not be able to breathe on their own, so that they will be intubated. General anesthesia carries more risks than other types of sedation, so it is only used when necessary.


There are many different types of dental sedation available, and the best type for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences. If you have a fear of needles, for example, you may want to consider conscious sedation, which uses pills or a gas to help you relax. If you need a more significant level of sedation, however, you may need to undergo general anesthesia. Ultimately, your dentist will be able to advise you on the best type of sedation for your needs.

If you need general dentistry services in Westborough, you can visit us at Westborough Dental Associates. Make sure your oral health is at its peak by booking an appointment with us at Westborough Dental Associates.