There are millions of people out there who do not get the dental care they need because of fear or anxiety. Are you one of them? Does the thought of going to the dentist make you weak with fear? Has it come to the point that it is impossible for you to pick up the phone to call the dentist for an appointment? Believe it or not, there are ways to conquer this anxiety with sedation dentistry.

Here at Delmarva Dental Services, we offer sedation dentistry techniques that can help many individuals reduce anxiety and experience a more relaxed, comfortable, and stress-free dental treatment. Please take a look at the sections below for details on our sedation dentistry options, and contact our office today with any questions you may have.

Sedation Dentistry Options

Our philosophy is that the patient determines whether they are numb enough for treatment, not us. If the patient raises their hand and tells us they are not numb, we will stop and add more local anesthetic. Headphones and TV can also be used during the treatment to enhance relaxation. Using “Corah’s Anxiety Scale,” we can measure your anxiety score and determine appropriate antianxiety options. The following antianxiety options are for relaxation and do not guarantee that the patient will be asleep.

  • Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas) – Used for mild anxiety. A gas is inhaled through a nosepiece. The amount can be changed throughout the procedure—either higher or lower—and recovery takes minutes.
  • Oral Valium® with or without Nitrous Oxide – Used for mild to moderate anxiety. Take 10mg of Valium® the night before the appointment and 10mg of Valium® an hour before the appointment. If needed, nitrous oxide can also be used.
  • Conscious Oral Sedation – Used for high and severe anxiety. Take 10mg of Valium® the night before the appointment. Take .125 to .5 of Triazolam one hour before appointment. May take additional Triazolam at the time of the appointment. Nitrous oxide will also be used. This method requires that we monitor blood pressure, pulse, and blood oxygen levels using a pulse oximeter. The patient does not need someone to drive them when only using nitrous oxide. The patient will need a driver if taking Valium® or Triazolam.

What is Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas)?

Delmarva Dental Services has had laughing gas available since 1981. It is used to lessen anxiety during dental care and does not replace the need for local anesthesia. This process involves placing a flavor-scented mask over the nose of the patient. A mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide is breathed through the mask and into the nose. The dosage can be changed at any time during the procedure. For example, someone may need a lower dosage in the beginning of the procedure, more in the middle, and less at the end. Some patients need the highest dose and some the lowest dose throughout the entire procedure. The minimum dosage of oxygen is 30 percent, maximum 70 percent, and the minimum of nitrous oxide is 30 percent, maximum 70 percent. The outside air we breathe has 22 percent oxygen, which allows someone to receive more oxygen than if breathing in normal air. The patient is fully conscious and able to talk, but may feel relaxed and distant. By the time the procedure is completed, the patient should be breathing 100 percent oxygen. They’ll be back to normal with a clear head.

Some patients use oral sedation combined with nitrous oxide. These individuals will need someone to drive them to and from the appointment. We have found that, over the years, many apprehensive patients use nitrous initially, but find they don’t need it after a few visits. There are also patients who choose to use nitrous regularly for their dental treatment.

What is Oral Sedation?

Oral sedation is a way to achieve a much more relaxing treatment by taking a tranquilizer/sleeping medication before the procedure. Some have even called it “relaxation dentistry,” as you will leave the office feeling relaxed and calmed. This method of sedation dentistry should instigate such an intense feeling of relaxation that it may be hard for you to believe that you have had dental work done. You may have been in the chair for hours and still have virtually no memory of the procedure taking place. Oral sedation involves a group of prescribed medications that you will begin taking the night before your big appointment. You will need someone to bring you to the office and take you home again, as driving safely won’t be possible until all the medications are out of your system.

How Does the Oral Sedation Process Work?

Your first visit will be a “get to know you” visit. There is no actual work done at this time; rather, it is an information-gathering visit. We will sit with you and talk about your needs and goals. Then, we will take x-rays and examine your mouth. Your second visit is the consultation. Between the initial visit and this one, the doctor will review your x-rays and prepare a course of treatment for you, sometimes with several different options. The consultation lasts about 50 minutes, allowing us ample time to go over the proposed treatment with you. Once you have decided which course of treatment is best for you, we will give you the needed prescriptions for your sedation visit. You will take a tranquilizer—Valium®—the night before your appointment to relax and help you sleep through the night. On the day of your appointment you will take a short-acting sleeping pill, Triazolam, one hour before your visit. A responsible adult will bring you to our office and you will need to bring your medications with you. Once here, we will administer nitrous oxide (laughing gas), and you may be given an additional dose of Triazolam if needed. You will be monitored by our sedation team throughout your visit. After your visit, your driver will take you home to get some rest.

The sedation medications will leave you with little or no memory of the sights, sounds, or smells of your visit, but you will likely feel a bit groggy. Once you have recovered, you will be amazed at how much was accomplished during your visit. Since you were so relaxed while the treatment was performed, you should feel very little discomfort from the effects of your dental visit.

Is Sedation Dentistry Safe?

The entire team here at Delmarva Dental Services is committed to providing the safest possible care in all aspects of your dental treatment. Sedation dentistry techniques such as those described in the above sections have been safely utilized in countless procedures for many years, and we prioritize the safety of our patients over all other considerations. If you are interested in oral sedation, which utilizes tranquilizers and sleeping agents, we will review your medical history during the consultation and talk with you about your candidacy for that particular sedation dentistry technique. All patients who undergo any type of sedation will be closely monitored during treatment to make sure everything is running smoothly and safely.

What are the Side Effects of Sedation Dentistry?

Individuals who undergo only nitrous oxide sedation typically do not experience any lingering side effects. In fact, once the nitrous oxide mask is removed, most patients feel completely back to normal within minutes. The most common side effects of oral sedation are grogginess and drowsiness, which should dissipate over the course of a few hours. Some patients may feel a bit dizzy after oral sedation, and others may even experience a mild headache, nausea, or a “dry mouth” sensation”; however, these effects do not occur in every patient and they should also fade within hours after the procedure.

How Much Does Sedation Dentistry Cost?

The cost of sedation dentistry at our practice typically falls in the $130 to $600 range, depending on the type of sedation being utilized and other factors. The price of sedation dentistry will be included in the overall cost estimate of the dental procedure, which can be presented to you for review once your treatment plan has been developed. Delmarva Dental Services offers our patients a wide range of convenient payment options, including payment plans available for qualified applicants through financing agencies such as CareCredit® and LendingClub®. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the most suitable way to bring the cost of treatment into your budget.

I’ve been a patient of Delmarva Dental for many years. They’re always very friendly and welcoming as well as knowledgeable. I completely trust this place and highly recommend them!

Jodie Foxwell

June 14, 2022


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There is hope out there for those of us who dread the visit to the dentist’s office. Please don’t let fear of the dental chair stop you from getting the beautiful smile of your dreams! Contact Delmarva Dental Services for more information on sedation dentistry techniques, or to schedule an appointment.

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