Sedation Options


Haddonfield Dental Sedation in Cherry Hill - Near Collingswood & Haddon Heights

A significant number of Americans do not visit the dentist for regular checkups because they are too fearful or suffer from dental anxiety. Sedation dentistry offers an excellent way to provide a safe, anxiety-free, dental experience to those who are afraid of the dentist.

Sedation dentistry is often mistakenly thought to induce sleep. In fact, most sedatives allow the patient to stay awake during the procedure. Sleepiness is a side effect of some medications, but nitrous oxide, anxiolysis, and IV sedation work to calm anxiety throughout the dental visit.

Some sedatives work so effectively that even the smells and details of the procedure cannot be recalled afterwards. Safety and compliance are two important aspects of treatment and sedation dentistry offers both the individual and the dentist the best alternative.

Whatever the form of sedative, it is essential to be accompanied by a caregiver to and from the appointment.

Here are some advantages associated with sedation dentistry:

  • Anxiety is alleviated.
  • More helpful treatment can be accomplished during each visit.
  • Procedures seem to take less time.
  • Safe

What kinds of sedatives are available?

The most popular types of dental sedation options are nitrous oxide, anxiolysis, and IV conscious sedation. Before administering any sedative, the dentist will review the full medical history of the patient, taking note of any current conditions and medications, as well as corresponding with the patient's physician if necessary.

Here is an overview of some of the most common sedation options:

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas,” is used as a mild sedative. It is delivered through a nose hood, and is usually administered throughout the entire dental procedure. Nitrous oxide elevates the general mood and can evoke a general sense of well-being.  Most importantly, it can help to relieve anxiety and reduce some pain during the procedure.   There are very few side effects associated with nitrous oxide, and it has been safely used in dentistry for many years.


Anxiolysis is one alternative for patients who are anxious.  A minimal amount of oral medication is provided prior to treatment in order to induce a certain level of relaxation.  Often, this is done in conjunction with nitrous oxide.  Though oral sedatives do not cause sleep, they usually dull the senses. Typically,  the patient is aware of and remembers what is going on during the procedure but is comfortable enough to proceed with the treatment. 

IV Conscious Sedation

IV (Intravenous Sedation) is an excellent option for treating patients with dental anxiety and fear.   Because you are completely relaxed, your dentist can accomplish more high quality dentistry in less overall time.  The amount and level of medication that is used can be comfortably and quickly adjusted during the procedure, which is important for regulating the level of sedation desired.  This method is especially beneficial for those who have difficulty sitting in a dental chair for long periods of time and for patients who have a noticeable gag reflex.   The patient is monitored the entire time and most of the time they do not remember anything about the procedure.   Patients generally recover more quickly after IV sedation.  

What types of drugs are used in conscious sedation?

Most of the drugs used in sedation dentistry are classified as benzodiazepines.  Benzodiazepines reduce anxiety, muscle spasms, insomnia and seizures. Each medication has a different half-life, meaning that the effects last for varying amounts of time. The estimated length of the procedure, as well as the patient's health history, determines which type of drug is going to be most effective.

Here are some of the most common medications used in anxiolysis:

Halcion® – A benzodiazepine that has the following properties: anxiolysis, amnesia, sedation, anti-convulsion, and muscle relaxation.
A shorter half-life makes this sedative useful for some dental procedures.

Ativan® – A benzodiazepine that has the following properties: anxiolysis, amnesia, sedation, anti-convulsion, antiemesis, and muscle relaxation.

Valium® – A benzodiazepine that has the following properties: anxiolysis, amnesia, sedation, anti-convulsion, skeletal muscle relaxation.
This sedative has a much longer half-life and is not used as frequently anymore for the purpose of oral sedation.

Here are some of the most common medications used in IV  conscious sedation:

Midazolam® -- A benzodiazepine that has the following properties: anxiolysis, amnesia, sedation, anti-convulsion, and skeletal muscle relaxation.
It is used to relieve anxiety and produce drowsiness.  The majority of the time, it will allow the patient to not remember their dental procedure.

Interested in an Stress Free Dental Experience? Do you Want to Learn More About our Cherry Hill Sedation Dentistry Options?

We know visiting the dentist can be scary and stressful at times, which is why we are happy to offer sedation dentistry for our Cherry Hill and Haddonfield dental patients. If you would like to schedule an appointment or hear more about how sedation dentistry can help you, please contact us at our Cherry Hill dental practice. 

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