At the Atlanta Center for Cosmetic Dentistry, we offer various levels of sedation dentistry (including complementary Nitrous) to increase your comfort during dental treatment.

Below is an inquiry from a patient from another dental practice requesting information about the different levels of sedation.

I’m confused about the various levels of sedation dentistry, what each one really means, and which one I should choose. It seems like every dental practice I’ve researched promotes a specific type. I need to have a crown placed on a molar. I’m 36 and this is actually my first cavity in my whole life, so I have no idea what to expect. Originally, I just needed a filling, but I put it off and now I have to get the crown, but the dentist I’m seeing does CEREC crowns, so it will all be done in one appointment.

I really don’t know how I’ll be during the dental appointment. I have always done fine for cleanings and never felt like I needed anything to take the edge off, but even thinking about having my tooth fixed makes my heart race. At the same time, I don’t like the idea of not knowing what’s happening during the procedure. I want to be awake, but at the same time, I don’t.

Right now, I’m comparing Nitrous oxide and oral sedation. How are they different and which one is right for me?

Thanks, Natasia


Dear Natasia,

This is a great question that a lot of people ask about. Let’s break it down a bit, so you can choose what is right for you.

Nitrous Oxide

This is the lowest level of sedation. Nitrous oxide is a gas that only impacts you while you’re inhaling it. You would be awake, but relaxed about what’s going on around you. It often helps increase the effectiveness of numbing agents as well, so you’ll stay more comfortable. With this option, you can drive yourself to and from your appointment.

Oral Conscious Sedation (OCS)

With OCS, which is typically combined with Nitrous oxide, you take anti-anxiety medicine before your appointment. You will likely remain awake during the appointment, though you may fade in and out a bit. However, you’ll still be able to be an active participant in the treatment, and the doctor will converse with you throughout. Because the medication will remain in your system after the appointment, you’ll need someone to drive you to and from your appointment and stay with you until the medication wears off.

Is Nitrous Sedation Dentistry Right for You?

Generally speaking, it’s best to go with the lowest form of sedation that will keep you comfortable, and Nitrous oxide just might do it for you. However, if you have concerns that it won’t be enough, OCS is an excellent choice, provided you make arrangements for transportation and having someone accompany you home.

We welcome you to schedule a consultation with one of our accredited cosmetic dentists to discuss the possibilities for your smile and to determine which sedation dentistry is best for you. Call us at 404-994-4509, or request an appointment online.