Conscious Sedation: What Is It and What Does It Feel Like?

Conscious Sedation: What Is It and What Does It Feel Like?

Nov 10, 2021

It is not uncommon for you to feel uneasy about conscious sedation, especially when you have no idea what sedation dentistry is all about. No one likes to feel out of control, and most certainly not when receiving physical or oral care.

However, you know that sedation dentistry is vital since it can help you have an easier time undergoing specific dental procedures.

It is understandable for you to wonder how you’d feel if you undergo conscious sedation before getting dental treatments. Therefore, we have decided to provide you with the essential information to help you be at ease.


Sedation dentistry aims to help reduce discomfort, anxiety, and pain during dental treatments. The use of medication and sedatives achieves sedation.

If you feel panicky or anxious during complex procedures like cleanings, root canals, and fillings, you might need sedation.

Conscious sedation is also referred to as happy gas, sleep dentistry, happy air, twilight sleep, and laughing gas.

Treatment of the pain and anxiety is as necessary as correcting the issues that brought you to our dental office. Sedation will help you tolerate procedures that could be otherwise unpleasant.

There are three stages of sedation:

  • Minimal sedation: You will be relaxed but awake and responsive
  • Moderate sedation: You will be sleepy, and you can lose unconsciousness, but you will be somewhat responsive
  • Deep sedation: You will fall asleep and be unresponsive
    The sedative agents used can produce the following effects:
  • Amnesia – lapse of memory of the dental procedure
  • Anxiolysis – relief from agitation and anxiety
  • Analgesia – pain relief

In most cases, minimal to moderate levels of sedation is sufficient for minor procedures.

How Is the Procedure Carried Out?

The procedure may differ from person to person, depending on the procedure being done. In any case, here is the general process:

  • • You will sit in the dentist’s chair and be asked to relax
  • Then, the sedative will be administered through one of the following routes, intravenously, oral tablet, or inhalation.
  • You will wait for the sedative to kick in, which can take up to an hour. But if you receive the sedative through an IV line, it will take a few minutes before the sedative takes effect. Oral sedatives may take half an hour to an hour before you feel the effects.
  • Our dentist will monitor your breathing and blood pressure. If the breathing becomes shallow, you will wear an oxygen mask to ensure that you receive enough oxygen
  • The dental treatment will commence once sedation kicks in

If you are undergoing procedures such as root canals or fillings or receiving a crown, you will need to request sedation since local anesthesia will work in these cases.

What Does It Feel Like?

The sedation effects will not be precisely the same for everyone. However, the common feelings will be relaxation and drowsiness. After the sedative kicks in, stress, negative emotions, and anxiety disappear.

You can also experience some tingling sensation throughout the body. But the feeling will be more intense in your legs, arms, feet, and hands. Additionally, your notice that your limbs have become heavy, and it will be harder to move or lift your limbs.
You will be a bit drowsy but still conscious during the procedure. However, some patients might sleep, but they can be woken up with a gentle nudge. This kind of sedation allows you to respond to our dentist’s instructions. Therefore, you can chat with our dentist and still feel relaxed.

Expect very little recollection of your experience in the dentist’s chair. Other patients have felt like they were in a conscious dream.

Generally, you can expect to have the following side effects:

  • Slow reflexes
  • Drowsiness
  • Feeling sick
  • Low blood pressure
  • Loss of memory of what transpired during the procedure
  • Headache

How Does Recovery Look Like?

Recovery is relatively fast; however, you cannot just swing into action immediately. Our dentist will keep you around for an hour or so for observation. If everything is okay, you will be free to go.

However, you will need to have someone drive you home since your reflexes may still be impaired. Plus, some side effects may take up to a day before they wear off completely. Therefore, take the day off and avoid physical activity or manual tasks until the effects wear off.

Therefore, contact us at Fox Creek Dental by Espire in Loveland if you need sedation.

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