female patient getting sedated for dental procedure

Is Sedation Dentistry Safe?

Team Sedation Dentistry

Many patients in the St. Louis area choose Ballas Dental Care for our expertise in sedation dentistry. If you have dental anxiety or phobia, sedation dentistry can allow you to get the care you need. If you have dental anxiety, you may also have anxiety about sedation, which creates another obstacle to getting treatment. Below, we explain the types of sedation dentistry offered at our practice and why you can feel confident about their safety.

Understanding Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry is a term that describes a number of different methods that help patients feel relaxed and calm during their dental procedures. Sedation can range from mild to general anesthesia in a hospital setting. At Ballas Dental Care, our sedation options include:

Nitrous Oxide (Inhaled Minimal Sedation)

Nitrous oxide (also known as laughing gas) is a mild form of dental sedation that has a long track-record of safe use, which is why it’s often used for pediatric patients. A small mask will be placed over your nose; you’ll inhale a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen. Nitrous oxide takes effect quickly and wears off just as fast, which means there are few risks or lingering side effects involved. With Nitrous Oxide, patients are able to drive themselves to and from their dental appointment which makes it more convenient for you.  For many patients, this is all that is needed to help them through their dental procedure without anxiety.

Conscious Oral Sedation

Conscious oral sedation can provide a minimal or moderate sedative effect, depending on the dosage. If you need a deeper level of sedation than nitrous oxide, oral sedation is ideal. We will prescribe an anti-anxiety medication for you to take prior to your appointment. This medication will help you feel relaxed and drowsy; you will remain fully conscious, although occasionally a higher dose may cause you to nod off during your procedure. Oral sedation has few side effects or risks. Conscious oral sedation is particularly helpful for people who have put off dental care for long periods of time. Many times, smiles can be restored and mouths can be made healthy again in as little as 1-2 visits.


NuCalm is an innovative relaxation system that uses advanced neuroscience technology to help patients relax without the need for prescription or inhaled sedatives. It involves either a topical cream or supplement that counteracts your body’s adrenaline response, painless electric current stimulation patches to relax your muscles, noise-cancelling headphones, and an eye mask to block external stimuli.

Sedation Dentistry Safety

Many of the concerns raised about sedation dentistry have to do with IV sedation, which we do not offer at Ballas Dental Care. Unfortunately, when IV sedation is used improperly, it can cause serious complications. Although patients feel as if they are sleeping with IV sedation, they are still technically conscious and breathing on their own. If too much sedation is administered, they may not be able to manage their airway, causing them to stop breathing.

This is not a concern with the types of sedation that we use at our practice. The only side effects most patients experience are mild—drowsiness and lightheadedness are common, with some instances of nausea and headaches.

Learn More About Sedation Dentistry in St. Louis

If you have questions about our sedation dentistry services, contact us today at 314-432-5544 to schedule an appointment for a consultation.