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Do you feel anxiety whenever you visit the dentist? Do thoughts of getting a cavity filled make you shiver in fear? If so, then you may have dentophobia. A fear of visiting the dentist isn’t uncommon, and there are sedation methods available that can help you relax. Ask your dentist about these methods at your next check-up to see if they are right for you.

There are two common types of sedation in dentistry: nitrous oxide and oral sedation. Nitrous oxide is also known by its more common name of laughing gas. Patients breathe the nitrous oxide in through a nose mask and it helps them relax. It is also common to have your limbs feel tingly or heavy while using nitrous oxide, but its effects do not last longer than 15 minutes after the mask is removed. Nitrous oxide also does not make a patient fall asleep.

Oral sedation (often called conscious sedation) involves the patient swallowing a pill before an exam or procedure. This has similar effects to nitrous oxide in that it helps a patient relax and will not make them fall asleep. Depending on the oral sedation medication used, you may experience its affects for a couple of hours and require someone to drive you home after a procedure.