Sedation Dentistry


Sedation dentistry refers to the use of sedation during dental treatment. Sedation can range from the use of nitrous oxide to calm a patient to general anesthetics used to put patients to sleep. Patients with dental phobia, low pain tolerance, major dental treatment, physical handicaps or strong gag reflexes may require sedation. Procedures such as fillings, crowns, bridges, root canals, extractions, cosmetic procedures and periodontal treatments often require sedation.

Sedation is endorsed by the American Dental Association and is an effective way to make many patients comfortable during their dental visit. Before using a sedative or anesthetic, it is important to tell your pediatric dentist about any medications or medical treatments your child is receiving. Before administering any sedative or anesthetic, your pediatric dentist will talk to you about the process of sedation and pre- and post-sedation instructions.

We use two different types of sedation – nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and general anesthesia.

Nirtous Oxide/Laughing Gas

Nitrous oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas, is often used as a conscious sedative during a dental visit. The gas is administered with a mixture of oxygen and has a calming effect that helps phobic or anxious patients relax during their dental treatment. Because it is a mild sedative, patients are still conscious and can talk to their pediatric dentist during their visit.

After treatment, the nitrous is turned off, and oxygen is administered for 5-10 minutes to help flush any remaining gas. The effects wear off almost immediately. Nitrous oxide rarely has side effects, although some patients may experience minor nausea and constipation. Your pediatric dentist will provide you with pre- and post-sedation instructions.

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia is the term for anesthesia that puts a patient completely to sleep during a procedure. The general anesthesia can be applied in a variety of ways, including injection, gas inhalation or through IV, depending on the circumstances. Aside from keeping the patient unconscious, the sedation also acts as an amnesiac, causing the patient to forget the events immediately before and after the procedure.

General anesthesia is very safe under trained supervision. Please notify us of any medications your child is taking in addition to any food or drug allergies he or she may have. We will provide you with a comprehensive set of instructions to follow before, during and after your child’s dental procedure with general anesthesia.

Have more questions about how anesthesia is used in our office? Read Dr. Joshi's FAQs on General Anesthesia for more information!