Definition Dental


  • 12850 SW Canyon Road
    Beaverton, OR 97005
  • (503) 644-8900

Sedation Dentistry

Imagine undergoing dental treatment and being completely relaxed. When your treatment is complete, you have no recollection of the time it took or the noise, only being completely at ease. We are pleased to offer our patients the option of comfortable, safe, and effective sedation dentistry. Patients who benefit from sedation dentistry have:

  • A fear or anxiety of being at the dentist
  • A hard time sitting still for long periods of time
  • A hard time getting (and staying) numb from anesthetics
  • A difficult gag reflex

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Oral sedation dentistry allows your doctor to provide a variety of dental treatments safely and comfortably for patients who experience anxiety when visiting the dentist. There are several benefits to sedation dentistry, including:

  • No memory of undergoing the procedure
  • No sense of time while under sedation
  • No sense of smell or sound
  • No fear or anxiety during treatment

Patients who have undergone a procedure using sedation dentistry will tell you it is a simple, relaxing way to experience dentistry.

I am nervous about being unconscious. What levels of sedation are available to me?

There is no need to be nervous about having sedation dentistry at our practice. We are licensed by the Oregon Board of Density and you will find that we are both respectful and professional at all times.

Sedation dentistry is closely regulated by law, and there are two sedative states which Dr. Houlihan can administer before your treatment: mild sedation and moderate sedation.

  • Mild Sedation — Anxiolysis is the lightest form of sedation dentistry and is often used for patients with mild anxiety or during longer procedures. Mild sedation can be in the form of nitrous oxide gas inhalation (laughing gas) or administered orally with medication. You remain awake or very sleepy throughout the entire procedure and are able to breathe on your own, but you will feel a great sense of relaxation. Patients taking oral prescription medication typically recover from Anxiolysis sedation within a few hours after the procedure is complete, and if using only nitrous oxide gas, typically can return to your normal activities immediately.
  • Moderate Sedation — Moderate sedation is used for patients with moderate to high dental anxiety, or for patients that have difficulty getting numb, have a heavy gag reflex, or during longer procedures. Many times what may take multiple appointments can be completed in a single visit. With oral conscious sedation, you will be given a prescription medication to take the night before your treatment so you can get a good night’s rest. You'll have a companion bring you to the office where you will take a second sedative medication which will allow you to remain awake throughout your procedure, but in a deep state of relaxation. You will likely feel like you were sleeping through the procedure. After the procedure your friend or companion will take you home will you will rest comfortably.

How are sedatives administered?

  • Inhalation — Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is the most frequently used method for easing mild to moderate anxiety. Recovery is quick so you can resume your normal activities immediately.
  • Oral — An extremely common technique for dental sedation is oral sedation. It is easy and does not require the use of needles. You will be given a prescription pill, and if taken about an hour before your appointment, you will be fully relaxed by the time you arrive at our office.
  • Intramuscular (IM) — Intramuscular sedation, which involves an injection of sedative drugs into the muscles of the upper arm or upper thigh, can result in sedation within a short amount of time.
  • Intravenous (IV) — In IV sedation, a sedative is administered intravenously, or directly into a vein. The sedation can be quickly modified to your state of consciousness and can be continued as long as necessary for the procedure.

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