Sedation Dentistry

Dental phobia is a common condition, and the reason why millions of Americans regularly miss scheduled dental appointments and suffer from poor oral health as a result. The effects of dental phobia can vary widely. While some patients may experience mild symptoms including sweaty palms, nausea and anxiety, others may suffer from shaking, vomiting, and even panic attacks.

At Smile by Choice in Manhattan, NY, sedation dentistry makes it possible for even the most anxious and frightened patient to undergo dental examinations and cosmetic or restorative treatment while feeling safe and relaxed. It is also an ideal option for those patients who have physical or cognitive disabilities that make routine dental appointments difficult or impossible.

What is Involved in Sedation Dentistry?

Many people confuse sedation dentistry with a general anesthetic. However, they are not the same thing. With sedation dentistry, the patient is given a degree of sedation that allows them to be calm and comfortable during the examination or procedure, but retain some degree of consciousness. With a general anesthetic, the patient is put to sleep, meaning that they will be completely unconscious for the duration of their dental appointment.

Degrees of sedation

There are different degrees of sedation available, and the level which is most appropriate for you will be decided at your consultation appointment. Dr. Choi will usually take two main factors into consideration when it comes to recommending your level of sedation – what dental work is required, and how serious your dental phobia is.

Light sedation

Light sedation is the minimal amount of sedation offered to patients. It is usually administered as Nitrous Oxide aka laughing gas, which when inhaled, prompts the patient to feel calmer and more relaxed. This type of sedation only lasts for a few seconds at a time, and so is normally provided via a mask that is placed over your nose while your dental work is being performed.

Moderate sedation

Moderate sedation usually comes in the form of a pill or capsule that is swallowed around an hour before your dental procedure. This is a slightly heavier form of sedation that means that while you may have some awareness of what is happening, it will be unlikely that you can remember much or any of the procedure. Once your appointment is complete, you may experience some side effects from the sedation, such as disorientation and slurred speech, and should ensure you have someone to drive and accompany you home.

Heavy sedation

If you are recommended to have heavy sedation, you should expect to have this administered intravenously. The drugs used in heavy sedation will put you on the edge of consciousness, making any awareness you have of the procedure seem dream-like. You will almost certainly have no recollection of the procedure, and will experience side effects from the sedation. As such, you will need to have someone take you home and stay with you for a while after your appointment.

General anesthetic

A general anesthetic is usually only recommended in the most severe cases of dental phobia, and when the dental work required is invasive and extensive. Again, a general anesthetic is administered intravenously, and you will fall asleep virtually instantly and remain unconscious throughout your procedure. You will be monitored for a short while once you awake from the anesthetic, and then be allowed to go home, though you will need a friend or family member to drive you and stay with you.
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Advantages of Sedation Dentistry

By far the biggest advantage of sedation dentistry is that it provides an opportunity for everyone to receive the dental attention that they need, regardless of their fear or disability. This is extremely important as the earlier that any potential dental problems are identified, the sooner treatment can be sought which could prevent the onset of painful and debilitating symptoms. Dental problems which are left unidentified and untreated could quickly become significantly worse, requiring extensive and expensive treatment.

Many people don’t realize the impact that their oral health can have on their wider wellbeing. In fact, poor dental hygiene has been shown to be linked to a range of chronic and serious health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease and even cancer. Sedation dentistry enables you to have the best possible oral health which can in turn, protect you from the risk of these and other health conditions.

Sedation Dentistry in a Safe Environment

At Smile by Choice, patient safety is our utmost priority. To help ensure our patients are as safe and comfortable as possible during treatments, we use a fully equipped operating room for patients undergoing sedation. Smile by Choice is the only dental clinic in the Manhattan area that offers full-service sedation in an operating room that is specially equipped for dentistry.


We understand how nerve-wracking attending an appointment with your dentist can be, and we strive to ensure that you feel as well-informed, safe and calm as possible when visiting our offices. If you suffer from dental anxiety or phobia and would like to speak to us about the possibility of sedation dentistry, we would be delighted to assist you. Call our Manhattan, NY office today at 917-412-2334.