If you experience dental anxiety, you’re not alone — but that doesn’t make it any easier to get into that dentist’s chair and get the care that you need. Dental anxiety can prevent you from getting the frequency or type of dental care that you need to have a healthy, beautiful smile. That’s where sedation dentistry comes in.

There are plenty of benefits to sedation dentistry, but many patients have concerns about the side effects of sedation. Each method of sedation has different side effects, and knowing what to expect can help you prepare for your experience with sedation dentistry.

Side Effects of Oral Sedation

The easiest and first level of sedation dentistry utilizes oral sedation. After a consultation, you will be prescribed medications for your next appointment. Which medications will be dependent on your medical history and how long your procedure is expected to last. You’ll take that medication before your procedure, so you’ll feel calm and relaxed throughout. You will be capable of responding to questions, but will be unlikely to remember much of what happens while you are sedated.

Sedation dentistry comes with side effects

Side effects of oral sedation are generally mild, and pass quickly once the medication is out of your system. The most common side effects are loss of coordination and concentration. (This is why, if you take your pill at home before your appointment, you will need someone to drive you to your appointment and will always need someone to drive you home.) For some people, the loss of coordination is so strong that they have trouble walking.

Less common side effects include loss of appetite, nausea, decreased libido, and even nightmares. These are all temporary.

Side Effects of Inhaled Sedation

Nitrous oxide, referred to in common parlance as “laughing gas,” is the sedative that popular culture has tied to dentistry. It’s mixed with oxygen and delivered through a mask, then breathed through the patient’s nose. You’ll remain fully capable of responding to questions or instructions, but will often experience a sense of euphoria that gives the drug its nickname.

The most common side effect of nitrous oxide is nausea, although this generally only happens if the patient is oversedated. Just to be safe, it’s best to avoid going into a procedure that will use inhaled sedation with an empty stomach. Some patients can also experience dizziness or vertigo, and for some, the effects of nitrous oxide may not function as a strong enough pain killer.

Side Effects of IV Sedation

For patients with the highest levels of anxiety, IV sedation is a flexible and powerful option. This method delivers sedatives directly into your bloodstream. This means they can start working immediately. IV sedation is also safe to use for a prolonged procedure, without worrying about it wearing off before you’re ready.

There are a variety of medications that can be used for IV sedation, and each has their own set of side effects to look out for. In general, it’s common to have a poor memory of the procedure itself, and the effects can linger for hours after the procedure.

Ultimately, the decision of which sedation technique is right for you depends on lots of factors, from your medical history to the type of procedure to your own level of anxiety. Call (407) 834-6446 to make an appointment with Dr. Michael L. Weinstock to discuss your options.