Am I Really Asleep?

Does Oral Sedation Cause You to Fall Asleep?

The short answer is “no.” Many people who have only a cursory understanding of sedation dentistry believe that this dental technique puts patients to sleep. That’s actually a common misconception. While oral sedation medications make patients feel drowsy, and sometimes even cause them to lose some or all memory of a dental procedure, these drugs do not actually put patients to sleep. On the contrary, patients who have taken oral sedation medications remain awake and able to answer simple questions.

Oral vs. IV Sedation

Sometimes, patients do need to be “put to sleep.” That process is called intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. It’s a much riskier procedure, and must be performed by a licensed anesthesiologist.  Patients who undergo IV sedation are “completely out” during the process, and wake up groggy, disoriented, and with no memory of the procedure itself.


Oral sedation, on the other hand, can be administered in the comfort of Dr. Denes’ office – or even at your home before you come to your dental appointment. Oral sedation will relax you, but definitely does not render you unconscious as IV sedation does. Oral sedation feels like being in a deep state of ease, as if you have no cares in the world and are in a dreamlike state of being. However, you’re still conscious and somewhat aware of your surroundings.

Conscious Relaxation

While oral sedation patients do occasionally drift off to sleep, that is generally an effect of feeling relaxed and at ease, not because inducing true sleep is the goal of the medication. Each patient’s medication level is monitored during his or her treatment, and the lowest effective dose of medication is prescribed. The goal is to keep you awake but comfortable and perfectly safe. You’ll remain in this state until the medication wears off, usually in 2-4 hours.

Afraid of the Dentist? We Can Change That.

Using safe, effective sedation dentistry, Fresno general dentist Dr. Alex Denes can calm even the most fearful or nervous patients, so they are able to move forward with preventive, restorative, and cosmetic dental care. If you or someone you love is afraid of the dentist, contact our Fresno dentist office at (559) 297-1800 to schedule an appointment. Fresno Dental Studio proudly serves patients in Fresno and surrounding areas including Clovis, Madera, and Sanger.