Inhalation Sedation – Comfortable and Stress-Free Dental Treatment

Fear associated with dental visits is the most common feeling among patients, especially the youngest ones. However, it doesn’t have to be present during treatment. There are effective methods to make this experience more comfortable and enjoyable. One of them is inhalation sedation – a safe and effective technique that allows patients to undergo dental treatment without unnecessary stress. In this article, we will introduce you to the topic of sedation at Warsaw Dental Academy.


What is sedation in dentistry?

Sedation in dentistry involves the use of pharmacological agents to relax patients during dental procedures. The effective action of these agents calms the patient by reducing the activity of the central nervous system while maintaining all reflexes and awareness. During sedation, patients perceive pain differently than usual. The threshold for experiencing pain is raised, making it less noticeable, troublesome, and significant for the patient. There are several types of sedation, ranging from mild inhalation sedation to intravenous sedation and general anesthesia.


Types of sedation in dentistry

Various types of sedation are used in dentistry to help patients undergo dental procedures, especially when they experience strong stress, anxiety, or inability to cooperate. Here are a few main types of sedation in dentistry:

  • Inhalation sedation (nitrous oxide)
  • Intravenous sedation
  • Sedation using oral medications (pharmacological)
  • General anesthesia

Among the mentioned methods of sedation, in this article, we will introduce you to the topic of inhalation and pharmacological sedation – methods used by our specialists at Warsaw Dental Academy.

Inhalation sedation

Sedation using oral medications

Pharmacological sedation involves administering a sedative medication to achieve the desired level of relaxation and comfort for the patient before a planned dental procedure. It is used for adult patients who experience strong anxiety related to dental visits. The medication is taken by the patient in the office for a specified time before the planned procedure, and then its condition is monitored by the doctor in the office. The tablet exhibits anxiolytic and sedative effects, reducing the feeling of anxiety and fear in the patient while slightly affecting their consciousness. The patient is fully aware and able to control their body.


Inhalation sedation

Inhalation sedation is one of the more convenient and commonly used methods in everyday dentistry. It involves inhaling a gas mixture consisting of oxygen and nitrous oxide in appropriate proportions through a special mask placed over the nose. Inhalation sedation offers:

  • Comfort and safety: The patient breathes a gas mixture, leading to a state of relaxation and reduced anxiety without losing consciousness.
  • Quick effect: Sedation begins to work practically immediately after starting to inhale the gas mixture.
  • Easy to control: The dentist can adjust the gas dose during the procedure, adjusting the level of sedation to the patient’s needs.

Indications for inhalation sedation

Inhalation sedation can be used for patients:

  • with a clear fear of visiting the dentist (dental phobia),
  • sensitive to pain,
  • with difficulty maintaining calmness during prolonged procedures.



Although inhalation sedation is relatively safe, there are certain cases where it is not recommended:

  • Respiratory diseases: Significant contraindication to the use of inhalation sedation is upper respiratory tract obstruction – e.g., colds, flu. Also, patients with certain lung conditions may not be suitable candidates for inhalation sedation (pulmonary emphysema)
  • Some mental illnesses
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • First trimester of pregnancy
  • Uncooperative patient


Inhalation sedation at Warsaw Dental Academy

In the absence of contraindications, inhalation sedation can be used during a dental visit. A key aspect of preparing for the procedure, which we always inform our patients about, is to stop eating food two hours before the planned procedure. This is a crucial part of preparing the patient, ensuring the safety of the sedation being performed.

Consent for the procedure

To perform the procedure, informed written consent from the patient or parent/legal guardian is also required. The prepared consent informs the patient about indications, contraindications, and potential side effects. Then, our medical staff prepares the equipment.


The patient can use a standard mask or a special one flavored with their favorite scent. Then, the mask is placed over the nose, and the patient starts breathing a special gas mixture that induces sedation.

Sedation state

Upon achieving the appropriate level of sedation, the doctor proceeds with the planned dental procedure.

During the procedure, the patient is conscious, responds to instructions, cooperates with the doctor, and has full control over their movements. At the same time, the pain threshold is raised, so the patient feels it much lighter and calmer. After the procedure, a safe process of withdrawing the patient from sedation occurs. The visit ends with a period of 15-30 minutes spent in the chair without connected equipment, during which the patient returns to a state of full consciousness.


Inhalation sedation is not a general anesthesia (!)

Inhalation sedation is often mistaken by patients for anesthesia. In practice, they are two different forms of inducing a patient into a state of calmness for a medical procedure.

Anesthesia (general anesthesia) involves putting the patient into a deep pharmacological sleep, during which they are completely unconscious. They have no awareness of the environment or external stimuli. Used for more advanced surgical procedures, orthopedic procedures, or surgeries on internal organs.

Inhalation sedation is a mild form of intoxication, involving administering a gas mixture to the patient that induces their relaxation. Despite being calm, the patient can move, and their consciousness is slightly reduced. They can easily perceive external stimuli. This method can be used even for the simplest dental procedures.

Inhalation sedation


Safety of inhalation sedation

Side effects:

Is considered relatively safe, but it may cause:

  • Mild dizziness: Short-term feeling of slight dizziness may occur.
  • Nausea: Rarely, but some patients may experience nausea after inhalation sedation.

The dentist conducts a thorough medical history to ensure that the patient has no contraindications to inhalation sedation. During the procedure itself, the medical staff continuously monitors the patient’s condition to ensure their maximum safety throughout its duration.


Inhalation sedation in children

Dental procedures in young patients often evoke fear and stress in them. The method of inhalation sedation is becoming an increasingly common solution to ensure children’s comfort during dental treatment. Thanks to this approach, children experience calmness and tolerate pain during the procedure, while dentists can perform procedures more effectively and calmly.

An interesting phenomenon is the observation that children who regularly use inhalation sedation from an early age, after several years of treatment, show greater resistance to fear and pain. They gradually gain the ability to cope with the situation without the need for sedation. This phenomenon indicates the gradual adaptation of the body to experiences related to dental visits.

Of course, in cases of extreme fear or difficult situations where inhalation sedation proves to be insufficient, there is the possibility of using treatment under general anesthesia. However, in most cases, nitrous oxide, or inhalation sedation, is an effective and safe solution, which is appreciated by both patients and dentists.



Inhalation sedation is an effective way to reduce fear and stress during dental treatment. It is a safe method that can be controlled during the procedure to provide the patient with a comfortable experience.

If you or your child have concerns about visiting the dentist, inhalation sedation may be an excellent treatment option. However, it is always important to discuss your needs and concerns with your dentist to make the best decision about dental treatment.

Do you want to overcome fear or stress associated with dental treatment? Don’t worry, at Warsaw Dental Academy, we have an effective and enjoyable way to do it!