Oral Sedation Dentistry: What Should You Know?

Dr. Lee locking arms with Dr. Ngai in the waiting room of Newbury Dental
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If you or someone you know has extreme dental anxiety, a fear of needles, a strong gag reflex, or other concerns that can make a dental visit difficult, many dental offices (including us at Newbury Dental) offer oral sedation as an option to make your visit easier. Are you wondering if this is the right choice for you? We recommend that you speak with a dental professional before coming to a final decision, but here is some information to help inform you of the effects of oral sedation and how it will affect your visit.

Facts & Benefits

The oral sedative is a benzodiazepine, a drug that reduces activity in the fear and anxiety centres in the brain. This results in significant calm and relaxation. Depending on your dosage, you aren’t likely to remember very much of your dental procedure, if you remember it at all. 

While you are technically conscious and responsive during the procedure, none of the potentially anxiety-inducing sights or smells will affect you in your relaxed state or are even likely to remain in your memory. This state of forgetfulness is known as “conscious sedation”, and you may be familiar with it if you have had your wisdom teeth removed. Many dental offices use conscious sedation for that procedure so patients can still respond to instructions while sedated.

Oral Sedation Dentistry: What Should You Know?

To clarify the types of sedation, there are two levels of conscious sedation that you will run into at a dental office. These levels are “minimal” and “moderate”.

  • Minimal sedation is when a patient is fully awake but in a relaxed state
  • Moderate sedation is what is defined as “conscious sedation”, and normally results in no memory of the procedure

Both are very effective at eliminating anxiety and are equally safe, so it’s usually up to the dental professional or patient’s personal preference unless the procedure itself is quite intense.

Oral sedation, of course, only involves a pill, so those afraid of needles have one less obstacle at the dental office.


While oral sedation is generally considered safe, there are a few issues that patients can run into that aren’t present with an unsedated dental procedure.

Some short-term effects may result, which include

  • Drowsiness after the procedure
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Nausea

Aside from drowsiness, these effects will not happen to everyone. 

People’s bodies process medications at different rates, so it can be difficult to determine the length and strength of oral sedation’s effects. In many cases, oral sedation fully runs its course after a day. If you experience any troubling symptoms outside of these, contact your dentist.

You will need to arrange for a friend or family member to take you to the dental office and back. It is usually recommended that you take the oral sedative one hour before the dental visit, to ensure that it has taken effect by the time you have arrived. Because the sedative will have an effect for several hours, driving under its effects can be extremely unsafe or even impossible.

You will also want to give yourself at least 24 hours before returning to work or other responsibilities as the sedative runs its course.

Sedation Dentistry at Newbury Dental

If you have dental anxiety or another issue that you think oral sedation can help you with at the dental office, you can consult with us at Newbury Dental. We can work out the best plan to make your dental procedure as relaxing as possible. You can call us or book online at our website!

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Moss Wall in Newbury Dental, located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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