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What Is Sedation Dentistry?

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A woman sitting in a dentist’s chair looking at a mirror with her dentist before a dental procedure.

Our smiles say so much about us. It’s essential to look after our dental health, as having healthy teeth can support our overall health and well-being. However, anxiety surrounding dental appointments is more common than one might think. That’s why Riverwalk Dental offers sedation dentistry. 

Sedation dentistry refers to the use of sedatives during dental treatments, resulting in calmer conditions for the patient or even a light slumber, depending on the level of sedation. 

A question many may have is, is sedation dentistry worth it? With sedation during dental procedures, fewer appointments may be necessary as dentists can often work more quickly while their patients are under sedation. This, in combination with a more comfortable experience, can make sedation dentistry worth it for many people.

Is Sedation Dentistry Safe?

While dental sedation can have side effects on some individuals based on medical conditions, medicines, age and general health, sedation dentistry is a low risk, reliable procedure that can benefit anyone, including children and seniors.

It’s important to share your medical history before an appointment and to follow the before and after care instructions provided by your dentist, especially for those on prescription medications or with underlying health conditions. 

What Adverse Effects Can Sedation Dentistry Have?

As with any procedure, dental or otherwise, some individuals may experience side effects. With sedation dentistry, side effects are typically minimal and tend to pass a few hours after the treatment. However, it is smart to educate yourself on what is possible to expect. 

Side effects may include headaches, low blood pressure, nausea, slurred speech, drowsiness and disorientation, and temporary memory loss.

Are You Completely Asleep During Sedation Dentistry? 

Whether you are completely asleep during sedation dentistry or not depends on the level of sedation administered. 

  • For individuals who only want to feel a little more at ease during their session, there is the option of little sedation. Typically, nitrous oxide, also referred to as laughing gas, is used to provide the sedative through the mouth and nose. 
  • For people who experience more tension and anxiety during dental visits, a moderate level of sedation is an excellent choice. Oral medication can be used to induce a moderate level of drowsiness which has somewhat more potent effects that take longer to subside.
  • Deep sedation is an option for people who experience extreme anxiety when visiting the dentist. With this kind of care, many patients will either fall asleep entirely or be just on the verge of dozing off. The deep sedation option is commonly administered through an IV, however, some options do not involve needles. 
A female dentist in blue scrubs and a woman sitting in a dentist's chair looking at a tablet and smiling.

Can You Feel Pain During Sedation Dentistry?

The short answer: No. Because of the high number of Canadians with a fear of the dentist, comfortable procedures are a must. Even with the lightest application of sedation, patients feel peaceful and sleepy. Patients typically don’t feel pain throughout the procedure because of the application of painkillers and local anesthesia during sedation dentistry. Patients can anticipate waking up feeling at ease.

How Does Sedation Dentistry Work?

There are many sedation methods, the most common being gas, which is inhaled through the nose or mouth. You’ll be asked to count down from ten, and before you know it, you’re done! 

Other sedation options are available as well, depending on the level of sedation required and your level of comfort.

Reasons for Sedation Dentistry 

The reason for sedation dentistry depends on the patient’s needs. Sedation may be used during most dental procedures, whether it’s a basic checkup and cleaning or a more elaborate treatment that could otherwise be painful. However, sedation dentistry is most commonly used for complicated or invasive procedures rather than simple tasks.

Less common reasons for sedation dentistry would include:

  • An overly sensitive gag reflex 
  • Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders, or TMJ, where patients cannot hold their mouth open for the duration of a procedure
  • A fear of needles 
  • Extreme teeth sensitivity
  • Claustrophobia towards dentist chairs
  • Those with decreased sensitivity to local anesthesia
  • Those who have difficulty controlling movements or a muscular disorder 
  • Those with special needs (behavioural, physical, or cognitive)

Is Sedation Dentistry Right for You?

When considering if sedation dentistry is the right fit for you, you may ask yourself whether anxiety is keeping you away from essential visits for dental care. If so, sedation may help by making more lengthy procedures more comfortable, and can help you develop a better relationship with the dentist. 

To learn more about your options for sedation dentistry, book an appointment at Riverwalk Dental today. We look forward to welcoming you for a comfortable, stress-free dental appointment.

Written by Dr. Brandon Scott

Our Services

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East Village Location

We are conveniently located in Calgary’s East Village! Street parking is available out front, and our team will happily cover the costs of your parking, talk to our team for more information.


  • 540 6 Ave SE
  • Calgary, AB T2G 1K5

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  • Monday11:00 AM - 8:00 PM
  • Tuesday8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Wednesday8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
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You Always Wanted

Our smiles say so much about us, and a genuine smile is infectious! At Riverwalk Dental we work hard to give you the smile you’ve always wanted.

Could your smile use a bit of pampering? Request your next appointment today!

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Could your smile use a bit of TLC? Learn more about our teeth whitening services by visiting our Teeth Whitening page.

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Veneers are a great way to freshen up your smile by hiding tooth imperfections. Learn more on our Veneers page.

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Are you curious about Invisalign? Learn more by visiting our Invisalign page.

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Could your smile use a bit of TLC? Learn more about our teeth whitening services by visiting our Teeth Whitening page.

Veneers are a great way to freshen up your smile by hiding tooth imperfections. Learn more on our Veneers page.

Are you curious about Invisalign? Learn more by visiting our Invisalign page.

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