Sedation dentistry is an anxiety-free approach to dentistry. No longer will you need to fear a trip to the dentist’s office. Instead, you will finally be able to relax in the dental chair. Sedation has been used by physicians for over 50 years to perform operations or treatment on any part of the body, so why not the mouth? There are a variety of dental sedation options available, ranging from mild sedation to general anesthesia. Above all else, the goal of dental sedation is to achieve relaxation during routine and emergency dental procedures.

Did You Know?

At Sedation Dental Care at Raleigh Smile Center, we do our best to streamline your visit. We can complete the same amount of work in one visit, that would typically take other dental offices 7-10 appointments.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Am I a candidate for dental sedation?

Dental sedation is ideal for individuals who experience feelings of anxiety or fear when visiting the dentist, as well as those who have an active gag reflex. Almost anyone can safely undergo dental sedation, however there are a few exceptions. For example, pregnant women, people with allergies to benzodiazepines, those with sleep apnea, or who are taking certain medications may not be an ideal candidate for sedation.

Because safety is our priority, our office offers consultations to determine if dental sedation is appropriate and what form would be best for your individual needs. During your consultation, you will be greeted and welcomed into our dental family. Our doctors will get to know you, listen, answer any questions you may have, and establish a good foundation for your oral health.

What are my dental sedation options?

Sedation Dental Care at Raleigh Smile Center offers patients a variety of dental sedation options, including:

  • Valium/Ativan
  • Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas)
  • Oral and IV Sedation
  • General Anesthesia

What can I expect when under dental sedation?

As mentioned above, there are different types of dental sedation and the exceptions vary slightly depending on the type of sedation used. Here is some information on what to expect when undergoing each type of sedation:


Valium is an anti-anxiety medication (diazepam) that is taken orally before a dental procedure. When under the effects of valium sedation, patients describe feeling “loopy” and uninterested with whatever procedure is being performed despite being aware of what is happening. Ativan is also an anti-anxiety medication (Lorazepam) that produces a calming effect and impairs memory formation. Since the effects of valium and Ativan can linger, a driver will be needed to drive you home.

Nitrous Oxide

Commonly known as “laughing gas” for its production of euphoric feelings, nitrous oxide is a form of inhaled sedation. When receiving nitrous oxide sedation, you can expect to have a small mask placed over your nose. As soon as you begin inhaling nitrous oxide gas, you will feel your body relax, but you will remain conscious. In some cases, you may fall into a light sleep. Once you stop inhaling the gas, you will quickly return to normal. Since nitrous oxide is only effective when being inhaled, you will be able to drive and return to your normal activities after undergoing nitrous oxide sedation.

Oral Sedation

Oral sedation medication is delivered by mouth involving a pill or liquid. Depending on the dosage, the level of sedation can range from minimal to moderate. When receiving oral sedation, you can expect to be drowsy and fall asleep.  We will be able to wake you, talk to you at times.  We wake you when we are using a lot of water or checking your bite. Oftentimes, patients that undergo oral sedation have little to no memory of their procedure. The effects of oral sedation will continue to linger after the procedure, so you will need a driver and someone to stay with you until the sedation has worn off.

IV Sedation

IV sedation is delivered through the vein, which makes it easy to control the amount of sedation you receive. IV sedation is used to achieve a mild to moderate level of sedation. Many times we start with oral sedation to alleviate the fear of the IV. Since the effects of IV sedation linger after the procedure, you will need a driver and someone to stay with you until the medication wears off.

General Anesthesia / Monitored Anesthesia

We employ the services of a Dental Anesthesiologist to deliver general anesthesia or monitor patients with specific health concerns that would prevent them from sedation in a typical office.  General anesthesia allows us to achieve greater levels of sedation and anesthesia. We can utilize an anesthesiologist to treat patients that have severe phobias, gag reflexes and patients with different medical conditions, and tolerances.  Having an anesthesiologist also allows us to treat most autistic patients and individuals that have intellectual challenges. The effects of general anesthesia will linger, meaning you will need a driver and someone to stay with you until the effects of the sedation have worn off.

Will I need to follow any special instructions after undergoing dental sedation?

With the exception of nitrous oxide, all other dental sedation methods require that you have a driver present to drive you home after the procedure. This is because the sedation effects will last longer than the procedure itself. Depending on the level of sedation you receive, it may also be advisable to have someone monitor you for the first 24 hours after your procedure. After receiving dental sedation, it is important to take it easy, drink plenty of water, and to start out by eating stomach-friendly foods.