Sedation Options for a Root Canal Treatment

root canal

The most common question patients ask when an endodontist recommends a root canal is whether the procedure would hurt. There are, after all, many horror stories going around regarding the pain associated with root canal treatments. Most people, as a result, opt for alternative therapies for their dental issues. Here’s the unvarnished truth: a root canal procedure can be a bit uncomfortable, but it is not painful.

The comfort in root canal therapies is attributed to the various forms of sedation dentistry, which dentists performing dental surgeries in Littleton, CO offer. Sedation helps patients relax and enables dentists to perform diagnostics and the root canal procedure itself.

If you’re up for a root canal, your orthodontist might present you with these sedative agents.


The most common anxiolytic used for root canal treatment is valium. This is prescribed a few hours before your procedure. It is meant to help you relax before you even arrive at your endodontist’s office. If your doctor prescribes an anxiolytic before your root canal, make sure to have someone who’ll drive you home and take care of you after the procedure. This sedative will leave you feeling drowsy, and it could take four hours for the effects of the anxiolytic to wear off.

Nitrous Oxide

nitrous oxide

Yes, if you didn’t know it yet, laughing gas is a safe and effective sedative. Nitrous oxide instantly relieves anxiety and gives orthodontists adequate time to finish the treatment or diagnostic procedure. The sedation is delivered right before your treatment, and its effects wear off a few minutes after the breathing mask is removed. There’s no need to have someone with you because you’ll be able to drive yourself to and from your appointment. You should, however, avoid alcohol for about twelve hours after its administration.

Conscious Sedation

This form of sedation is more comfortable than nitrous oxide and anxiolytics. Conscious sedation drugs can be taken orally, injected at the treatment site, or administered intravenously. You will be awake, but with a depressed level of consciousness (lethargic) throughout the procedure and will regain full consciousness approximately six hours after the procedure. In most cases, patients won’t need breathing aids. Most dentists, however, will still provide supplemental oxygen along with IV fluids.

Intravenous Sedation

This is generally used for extensive root canal procedures or endodontic surgeries. In intravenous sedation, a sedative will be injected through your veins and produces immediate effects. You will be asleep throughout your treatment and have no recollection of the procedure. Your vital signs will be monitored throughout and the dosage of the sedative adjusted if necessary during the root canal.

Given these sedative options, undergoing a root canal procedure will be virtually pain-free. It is not the most painful dental procedure as most people like to think. Apart from sedation, your endodontist might prescribe pain-relieving medication to ensure your comfort after the treatment. You might also receive antibiotics to minimize the risk of infection on the treated site.

Choosing alternative therapies when your dentist recommends a root canal will only be a waste of money. Your dental problem could worsen, and you’ll be in more pain than before. Avoid these outcomes and seek proper dental treatment as soon as possible.

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