Does Sedation Dentistry Really Work?

Young girl smiling, having a dental exam

If your child is afraid of visiting the dentist, they’re not alone.

Going to the dentist isn’t exactly everyone’s favorite thing to do.

Thankfully, children’s dentists have all sorts of tricks up their sleeves to make treatments gentle, stress-free, effective, and even fun!


If your child doesn’t tolerate dental treatment well, they may need more assistance. This is where sedation dentistry can come into play.

Sedation dentistry refers to the use of medications to help patients relax and feel calm.

But what parents really want to know is:

Does sedation dentistry really work?

We’ll answer that very question and more!

Does sedation dentistry work?

Sedation dentistry may help your child overcome dental fear and receive all the treatment they need.

It may be a suitable option for your child if they have:

  • Severe dental anxiety
  • Fear of needles
  • Sensitive gag reflex
  • Trouble sitting still
  • Special needs
  • Multiple treatments
  • Complex procedures
  • Fear of the sounds and smells of a dental environment

On average, dental sedation is effective at helping children relax. However, results can vary from patient to patient.

What types of sedation are used in sedation dentistry?

Three of the most commonly used types of sedation are:

  • Nitrous oxide
  • Oral conscious sedation
  • General anesthesia

Nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, offers a mild level of sedation.

Your child will inhale it through a nosepiece, helping them feel calm during their procedure. The dentist can adjust the level of sedation to match your child’s comfort level.

They’ll remain awake and be able to communicate or respond to the dentist’s instructions.

Oral conscious sedation

Oral conscious sedation comes in liquid or pill form for your child to take easily. It offers a mild to moderate sedation level.

This type of sedation helps your child feel very relaxed and able to sit still through their appointment. They may feel drowsy and even fall asleep, but the sedative itself won’t make them unconscious.

Your child will be closely monitored throughout the appointment to ensure their safety. They’ll have little memory of the procedure after the appointment.

General anesthesia

General anesthesia is a strong sedative that an anesthesiologist administers. It may be recommended for your child depending on:

  • Their needs
  • The extent of the procedures
  • The type of work they need
  • Their age

They’ll be monitored throughout the appointment to ensure their safety, and afterward, they’ll have no memory of the procedure.

Is sedation dentistry safe?

Yes! Sedation dentistry is safe.

Qualified dentists are required to have extensive training, skills, and special equipment to administer sedation to your child. Anesthesiologists also aid in administering higher levels of sedation too.

Your child will be closely monitored throughout the procedure to ensure their safety and comfort.

At Smile Surfers, we strictly follow the protocols from the American Academy of Pediatrics… This text opens a new tab to the American Academy of Pediatrics website… and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry… This text opens a new tab to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry website… for sedating children.

How much does sedation dentistry cost?

The cost varies based on the procedure(s), the type of sedative used, your region, and the specific dental practice.

Some dental insurance policies may cover a portion of the cost of sedation dentistry, but most don’t provide coverage for it.

You can view our insurance and payment options on our New Patients page.

Think your child could benefit from sedation dentistry?

Contact our pediatric dentists at Smile Surfers!

We want to help your child conquer their dental phobias and receive the care they need! Our team has specialized training for treating children and utilizes modern technology and techniques to provide your child with the best pediatric dental care.

Ask us if sedation dentistry is right for your child.

Make An Appointment


Smile Surfers is located in Sumner… opens in a new window to Google Maps… and Richland… opens in a new window to Google Maps… and proudly serves the following communities: Puyallup, Lake Tapps, Bonney Lake, Lakeland Hills, Kennewick, Pasco, Umatilla, Hermiston, and surrounding areas.

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