dentist prepares for sedation dentistry

In sedation dentistry services, dentists have several medications available to help a patient relax. If you ask, “what drugs are used for sedation dentistry?” The answer depends on what the drugs are being used for, whether they are to help a patient relax, put them in a deep sleep-like state or to control pain.

Determining which medication to use and the amount depends on several factors. Dentists decide what drug would be best based on your overall health, the procedure involved, any allergies, and your level of anxiety.

The drugs used in sedation dentistry can fall under local anesthesia, general anesthesia, and sedation. Your treatment may also involve anti-inflammatory drugs and topical analgesics to control pain.

Local Anesthesia

Dentists typically use local anesthesia for simpler dental procedures that dentists can complete in a shorter time. These procedures are generally straightforward, so they give a lighter anesthetic that lets you stay conscious.

You will be able to communicate with your dentist while the particular area of your mouth is numb, so there is no pain. Local anesthesia quickly takes effect in roughly 10 minutes. The numbness will last for around 30 to 60 minutes.

Dentists administer local anesthetics either topically or via injection, as it is available in various forms like ointment, cream, gel, patch, liquid, spray, and injectables. In some cases, your dentist will combine light sedation with local anesthesia to help calm a patient.

Some of the anesthetics used at specialty dental services include:

  • Lidocaine – It’s the most preferred local anesthetic, blocking nerve signals in the body to keep it numb during a dental procedure.
  • Articaine – An amide-type regional anesthetic used in dental procedures, common in some European countries.
  • Prilocaine – Also an amino amide-type local anesthetic used in dentistry when in injectable form.
  • Mepivacaine – A local anesthetic not often used because of how it can irritate some tissues.
  • Bupivacaine – This local anesthetic is similar to lidocaine, but takes effect much slower and lasts longer.


Dental sedation has different levels, meant to help a person with anxiety to calm down or keep them still. Some sedatives may also cause amnesia. Sedation can be light, moderate, or deep, with the patient slightly conscious during the procedure.

You can take the drugs used for dental sedation orally, intravenously, intramuscularly, or inhaled. In deep sedation, also known as monitored anesthesia, the patient is generally unaware of their surroundings.

What Drugs Are Used for Sedation Dentistry?

When asking, what drugs are used for sedation dentistry, there are many drugs that can be used, including:

  • Diazepam – It is a benzodiazepine drug that produces a calming effect. It is metabolized by liver enzymes, which means patients with compromised liver function cannot take it.
  • Midazolam – A benzodiazepine drug that acts quicker and wears off faster than others like diazepam. It’s longer-acting, has a good amnesiac effect, and a safer sedative.
  • Propofol – This is a medication for sedation, which produces deeper anesthetic effects. It’s fast-acting but wears off quickly. Thus, its use needs careful monitoring for timed incremental doses.
  • Nitrous Oxide – Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is the ideal sedative for reducing pain and anxiety in child patients. Patients who use this as a sedative are usually awake during the procedure.

Some dentists also use these medications as general anesthesia. Depending on the drugs used, the patient can be conscious or completely unconscious.

Anti-Inflammatory and Topical Analgesics

Often, dentists will give some pain-relieving medication along with the sedative. Some of the medicines used include:

  • Fentanyl – It relieves pain and reduces the need for large doses of sedatives
  • Toradol – It’s a non-steroidal analgesic and anti-inflammatory
  • Nubain – It’s an opioid analgesic that has the same effects as Fentanyl

Prepare for Your Next Appointment

So now you know what drugs are used for sedation dentistry. Talk to your dentist at the dental office to learn more.

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