Most people feel calmer and more relaxed after taking sedative medication. But it's important to understand that these drugs are used to produce sedation along a continuum, ranging from mild to moderate at one end and unconscious at the other. In the dental setting mild or moderate sedation almost always applies, with patients remaining alert, responsive and able to answer questions. General anesthesia -- where patients are actually asleep -- is only provided in the hospital.
The number of patients who are afraid of the dentist ranges as high as 20 percent. For these individuals and many others, sedative medication can make oral care easier to tolerate. When patients are comfortable -- but still awake -- the dentist and dental team are able to proceed more efficiently. Sedation dentists can often perform a number of procedures in a single appointment, without sacrificing either patient safety or clinical quality. Many people with hectic schedules find it very beneficial to receive necessary treatments in as little as one dental visit instead of multiple trips to the dentist.