Calming Sedation Dentistry

Dr. Michael Sullivan, of locally owned Beacon Dental Center, uses sedation dentistry, also known as relaxation dentistry, to provide a calming and anxiety-free experience for certain people receiving dental treatment.

Sedation dentistry enables those of you who may be too afraid to go to the dentist to receive the dental care you need while avoiding the common apprehensions known as “dental phobia.”

It also allows those too busy to take care of extensive dental needs to combine procedures, lessening the appointments needed to complete their treatment plans.

Dr. Sullivan routinely performs pain free-sedation dentistry and often finds patients waking up and asking, “Are you done already?” even after hours of treatment.

Are You a Candidate for Sedation Dentistry?

There are many reasons to consider sedation dentistry. Here are the most common for

patients who:

  • Have high fear
  • Have had traumatic experiences
  • Hate needles and shots
  • Have difficulty getting numb
  • Have very sensitive teeth
  • Have complex dental problems
  • Are afraid or embarrassed by their teeth
  • Have limited time to complete dental care
  • Have a bad gag reflex
  • Hate the noises, tastes, and smells associated with dental care

Our Sedation Dentistry Approach

As always, Dr. Sullivan will go over every option available to you and take extra time to explain the benefits of each one. Together you will decide which procedure best fits you personally.

Full IV Sedation: Because Dr. Sullivan is one of only a handful of dentists in Northern Michigan licensed to provide you with IV (intravenous) sedation, this is the most commonly requested type of sedation performed.

The benefits of IV sedation include:

  • Painless, amnesia effect
  • Just wake up at the end of your procedure. Nothing to remember, nothing to fear!


  • The dosage can be completely customized to your needs.
  • Additional medications, such as antibiotics can also be administered throughout your body, significantly reducing your recovery time.
  • If the need arises, Dr. Sullivan can quickly give other medications, which reversean intravenoussedation.
  • Speed. Because the effects of IV sedation are so quick, there is less time for apprehension.
  • With an intravenous line, adjustments can be made during treatment to make sure you are properly sedated throughout the entire procedure.

Conscious Oral Sedation: There are many common drugs that, when prescribed appropriately, will provide you with the comfort of relaxation, inhibit your fears and allow you to rest easy as your procedure is done.

Typically, you can be given your oral medication upon arrival and put your feet up for a while in our reception room, while the sedatives take effect. Once relaxed, your procedure will go by in no time, often with no recollection by you. Pain-free and stress-free.

Nitrous Oxide: Nitrous Oxide (also known as laughing gas) has been widely used for decades and is very effective in producing a calming and sleepy effect in patients. It is especially effective in apprehensive children.

The biggest advantage to using this method is that once the gas is turned off, you regain your consciousness immediately and do not have any residual grogginess associated with other sedation methods.

Sedation Dentistry FAQ

First, you should know that anxiety over dental visits is extremely common, and millions of people feel exactly the same way as you. We know that all it takes is one bad experience to put you off dental treatments completely.

If this has happened to you, it helps if you try to remember that the great majority of dentists are very caring professionals who understand your concerns. However, we know that this may not be enough to get you past your dental anxiety.

We are sensitive to your feelings and will do everything possible to make every visit as calming and stress-free as possible. In addition, we offer sedation options that will add that extra layer of comfort so that you can receive the necessary treatment.

Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is most effective if you have mild to moderate anxiety. The great thing about sedation with nitrous oxide is that it does not have any lingering after-effects. After treatment, you will be able to resume your normal daily activities.

Oral sedation is appropriate if your anxiety is more severe. We often combine oral sedation with nitrous oxide for a totally stress-free experience.

Because of improved techniques and advances in technology, dentistry today is more comfortable than ever. But we know that anxiety is a problem for millions of people, and we are here to provide customized solutions so you can relax and get the care you need.

We offer a few types of sedation – nitrous oxide (or inhalation sedation) and oral sedation. Both offer benefits, and we will help you choose the one that best fits your needs. We also offer IV sedation for the patients that need it.

Nitrous oxide is a safe, colorless gas that you inhale through a small nasal mask. Within moments, you will start to feel a pleasant, euphoric sensation. The activity around you will recede into the background, and many patients say they have no memory of what happened during their appointment. One benefit of nitrous oxide that our busy patients enjoy is the fact that the effects dissipate as soon as we stop the flow of gas. You will have no lingering after effects and will be able to resume your usual activities right after your appointment.

Oral sedation is another effective option for patients who experience greater anxiety. Our doctors will prescribe a sedative that you should take about an hour before your appointment. By the time you get to our office, you will feel calm and remain so throughout your procedure. Since oral sedation enters your bloodstream, the downside is that it takes longer to leave your body. For your safety, we require that you have a friend drive you safely to and from your appointment.

IV sedation is a procedure that allows your dentist or oral surgeon to provide anti-anxiety medications, like those used in oral sedation, directly into your bloodstream. You may sometimes see this referred to as “sleep” or “twilight” dentistry which may make you think you’ll be completely unconscious during your procedure. In fact, you remain awake the entire time and will be able to respond to your dentist’s questions. You may not, however, remember much or anything once the medication wears off. Because of the nature of IV sedation, you must have an adult come with you to your procedure and drive you home. They will also need to take note of what you have to do in the hours and days after your procedure and help you until the sedation wears off. While it’s an effective form of sedation, it’s not one to be taken lightly.