Common Sedation Methods for Oral Surgery

oral surgeon's chairWe get it — oral surgery is not on the top of anyone’s bucket list. The number one issue people have concern with is sedation: How is it administered for oral surgery? How safe is it? Especially when dealing with general anesthesia, sedation for oral surgery can be daunting; being put under causes many patients anxiety. But there’s nothing to be worried about; sedation dentistry is one of our specialties.

As a doctor of dental and maxillofacial surgery, Dr. Puckett is licensed and certified to offer all forms of sedation available for oral surgery. Our priorities are your comfort and safety. We thoroughly review your medical history and discuss with you in detail your options for anesthesia during the consultation before your procedure. We care; we’ll be gentle. Relax! You’re in good hands.

What forms are available when it comes to sedation for oral surgery? That depends on the nature of the procedure, health considerations and comfort needs. In most cases, you’ll be awake in some form — the exception, of course, is general anesthesia.

The 4 Levels of Sedation Administration for Oral Surgery

Most applications of sedation are paired with a local anesthesia, up until general anesthesia. There are generally 4 levels of sedation available for oral surgery:

  • Minimal Sedation: You are fairly awake and cognizant, but highly relaxed.
  • Moderate Sedation: Also known as conscious sedation, this form leaves you relaxed and groggy. You may slur your words and may not remember much of the procedure.
  • Deep Sedation: You are on the edge of consciousness but can be easily awakened. For all intents and purposes you’ll be asleep, but not deeply.
  • General Anesthesia: You are completely unconscious, pretty much knocked out. We typically reserve this form for extensive oral surgery.

Application Methods of Sedation for Oral Surgery

Different patients have different needs and safety concerns, depending on their age, health, and the surgery being performed on their face, jaw or mouth. This is why there are several applications for anesthesia and sedation:

Inhaled Minimal Sedation for Simple Procedures

For minimal oral sedation, you can inhale nitrous oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas, which is combined with oxygen and administered through a mask placed over the nose. Nitrous helps patients feel more relaxed and comfortable — it also provides significant analgesia (pain control). It can even be used for minor procedures. The idea is to just help you relax and ease your anxiety. You can readily control your gas intake by asking us to raise or lower the amount you are given. The gas is highly relaxing.

However, we don’t use nitrous oxide at Wilmington Oral Surgery; it’s not a necessary method of sedation for oral surgery; there are safer and just-as-effective methods. Take a look:

Oral Sedation for Mouth Surgeries

Sedation is also available in a pill form that can range from minimal to moderate effects. The most common method of sedation dentistry is to administer Halcion, a member of the same drug family as Valium.

Typically, you take it an hour before the procedure. You’ll feel drowsy, but still awake. We can increase the number of pills taken for a more moderate approach to sedation. You may fall asleep during the procedure but can be gently awakened following completion.

Intramuscular Sedation for Children

This type of sedation works well with young children, who might be scared of inhaling something and/or unable to swallow pills yet. It’s also true that those other forms of mild-to-moderate sedation for oral surgery may come with more risks for children than adults. We think it’s always better to air on the safe side – pediatric oral surgery can be scary for a kid; we make it as calm, safe and simple as possible.

Intramuscular sedatives are administered through a small injection, usually through the shoulder. The effects take 5 minutes. We use advanced monitoring to ensure the safety of the child. Intramuscular sedation is a safe and effective form of oral surgery sedation that is highly reliable.

IV Moderate Sedation

Another approach to moderate oral surgery sedation is through an IV, administered through a vein. This allows the effects to come on more quickly. This method of sedating you for your procedure allows us to continually adjust treatment levels throughout the procedure, closely monitoring the patient throughout the procedure.

While you may fall asleep during the procedure, you’re easily woken and responsive to the people in the room. You’ll likely feel groggy when you come out – as if you’ve had a nap. Moderate IV sedation lowers your heart rate and blood pressure during your orofacial procedure, so your body and your mind are relaxed.

Deep Sedation & General Anesthesia for Complicated Oral Surgeries

We can give you medications that make you almost or completely unconscious. If you prefer, you can be deeply asleep with no memory of the procedure. Under general anesthesia, you cannot be easily awakened until the medication has worn off.

This oral surgery medication is administered through a small IV placed into a vein. The anesthesia is fast acting and short lasting. This allows small doses to be administered that are very safe and highly effective. When the oral surgery is complete, we stop administering the medication so you wake up relatively quickly. Nausea is fairly uncommon and can be avoided in susceptible patients.

Why Would I Need Sedation for My Oral Surgery?

You might be wondering – if all we’re doing is a simple tooth extraction, why would we even offer sedation dentistry? If you have dental anxiety, you already know why. Reasons we might recommend sedation along with anesthesia for your procedure include:

  • If you have very sensitive teeth
  • If you have an active or overactive gag reflex
  • If your dental anxiety prevents you from sitting still in the chair
  • If you have a low threshold for pain/discomfort
  • If you are more resistant to anesthesias
  • If you have a movement condition, such as Parkinson’s, epilepsy or a history of seizures
  • If you have heart problems
  • If the patient is neurodivergent in a way that makes the oral surgery distressing to them and/or difficult for the surgeon to complete
  • If the patient is a small child
  • If the orofacial surgery is complicated, extensive, long, etc.


Talk to your maxillofacial surgeon about your options for sedation for oral surgery. Whether you’re having your wisdom teeth removed, getting dental implant, full mouth reconstruction, or other oral surgery, we have a variety of sedation methods and pain remedies available. Your comfort is our priority!

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