Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry reduces anxiety so you can face dental appointments without fear.

Are you fearful of going to the dentist? Do you put off going to the dentist for the sole fact that you are nervous of even stepping foot in a dental office? Many dental offices, including ours, now offer different types of sedation that will make your trip to the dentist a more comfortable and relaxing experience. We want our patients to walk into our office stress-free, and our priority is to provide you with the necessary dental care and comfort that you deserve. We understand that every patient is different, so please let us know if we can do anything to make your visit more comfortable.


Sedation dentistry is a good choice for fearful or anxious patients but may also be beneficial for:

  • Patients in need of substantial dental work that may involve a number of long procedures
  • Patients with sensitive teeth
  • Special needs patients or those with medical conditions making dental treatment more difficult (e.g., dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc.)

Here at Seattle Smiles Dental, we offer 2 types of sedation dentistry but will discuss the 3 major types.

1. Nitrous oxide sedation, offered in our office:

Sometimes referred to as “laughing gas”, nitrous oxide is the most common type of sedation used in dentistry. Nitrous oxide is a sweet smelling gas that you breathe through a nose mask. With nitrous oxide, you will still have control of your bodily functions (e.g., breathing, movement), and will be able to converse but may experience mild amnesia and may fall asleep.

Since nitrous oxide completely leaves your system by the end of treatment, you may come and go from your appointment unaccompanied and also drive to and from the appointment. Nitrous oxide is not recommended in the following cases: nasal obstruction, pregnancy, pulmonary disease such as COPD or respiratory infections. It is safe to use on children and adults, people with asthma and women who are nursing.

2. Oral sedation, offered in our office:

Patients may also have the option of taking an oral sedative in the class of medications called benzodiazepines, such as Triazolam (Halcion) or Lorazepam (Ativan). This medication is usually taken one hour before the appointment. Because you do not know how sedation will affect you, an escort is required to bring you to your appointment and to accompany you home. You cannot drive a vehicle yourself to or from the appointment. Since sedation may range from a mild to moderate affect—you may feel varying ranges of relaxation, sleepiness and have mild amnesia after the appointment.

3. IV (Intravenous) sedation, not offered in our office:

IV sedation is the fastest acting sedation treatment, making it one of the most sought after sedation therapy for patients—commonly used during 3rd molar or wisdom tooth removal surgeries at the oral surgeon’s office. It is not commonly used in general dentistry. IV sedation is administered through the veins and induces a state of deep relaxation. In the dental world, it is sometimes referred to as “sleep dentistry.” It is a great option for children who may require extensive dental work (we can refer your child to a pediatric dentist for this service), those with severe dental anxiety and patients with medical conditions that make dental treatment more difficult.

While nitrous oxide and oral sedation medications may help you relax, local anesthetic is still required to numb the teeth. As always, please let us know what we may do to help you relax and have a positive dental experience. We are available to answer your questions or for discussion anytime and can help you make the right sedation choice for you.

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