According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, sedation is used in some cases during the treatment of impacted wisdom teeth. Depending on the medications used and their dosage, you could be in one of three types of sedation:
1. Mild Sedation
To help keep you relaxed during your procedure, your dentist may recommend a mix of oxygen and nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas. They will administer this tasteless, colorless medication through a wearable mask that you can breathe through comfortably. You will remain conscious but at ease while on laughing gas.
When it comes to laughing gas vs. anesthesia, this option is an attractive go-to if you’re prone to anxiety or are incredibly stressed about the procedure. According to the American Dental Association, nitrous oxide is considered both safe and effective.
Nitrous oxide typically wears off quickly, allowing you to drive yourself home after your procedure. However, sometimes your dentist will use a sedative in tandem with nitrous oxide and oxygen, in which case you will be unsafe to drive.
2. Moderate Sedation
This technique (also called IV sedation) involves using intravenous (IV) medications to place you into a “twilight” state between waking and sleeping consciousness.
Despite being partially conscious, you should be relaxed and pain-free during the procedure. Your experience with moderate sedation will typically be similar to that of general anesthesia, where you don’t remember your treatment. The drugs used may also be similar to those used during general anesthesia but will vary in dosage.
3. Heavy Sedation
Like moderate sedation, deep sedation uses similar drugs to general anesthesia and will place you into a lower state of arousal. During this state, you will not respond readily to most stimulation but are not entirely unconscious.
Your deep sedation experience will likely be going to sleep and waking up with no memory of the procedure.