Sedation for dental treatment

Sedation is medicine that makes you feel sleepy, and relaxes you both physically and mentally.

It is sometimes used during dental treatments to keep you calm if you are feeling anxious.

Even people who do not feel anxious choose to have sedation for some dental treatments, such as having teeth removed (extractions).

There are different ways of having sedation. For example, breathing in gas and air, having an injection into a vein (intravenous sedation), or having a squirt of medicine up your nose.

Not all types of sedation are suitable for everyone. The dentist at your assessment appointment will talk to you about the different sedation options, and help you decide which is the best option for you.

Other options

The alternatives to sedation are a local anaesthetic, or general anaesthetic.  

  • Local anaesthetic is an injection into your mouth to numb the area being treated. You will not feel any pain, but you will be fully awake and aware of the dental treatment.
  • General anaesthetic is medicine that gives a state of controlled unconsciousness during an operation or procedure. It is like being asleep and you feel nothing. 

With so many sedation treatment options available, very few people need a general anaesthetic. It is usually for people who need a lot of dental work, or who are very scared of dental treatment (dental phobic). Before you can have a general anaesthetic you will need to have a separate assessment by the dentist, and possibly an anaesthetist.

We want to involve you in decisions about your care and treatment. If you decide to have sedation, you will be asked to sign a consent form to say that you agree to have the treatment and you understand what it involves. 

If you would like more information about our consent process, please speak to a member of staff caring for you.

Resource number: 2201/VER4

Last reviewed: July 2019

Next review due: July 2022

Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns about sedation for dental treatment, contact the Department of Sedation and Special Care Dentistry.

Phone: 020 7188 6066 Monday to Friday, 9am to 4.30pm

You can also contact the dental day surgery unit.

Phone: 020 7188 1810 Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

Address: 26th Floor, Guy’s Tower, Guy’s Hospital

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Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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