The various sedation techniques used in modern dentistry today have definitely made it a lot easier for patients to sit in the dentist’s chair and to face their fears. Yes, fearing the dentist and dental treatments is still a problem a lot of people have to deal with but luckily, the above-mentioned methods and techniques have made it a lot easier for everyone to feel comfortable before a dental appointment.

All this just sounds too good to be true, right?

While sedation plays an elemental role in modern dentistry, there are such things as oral sedation side effects and risks, meaning a smooth ride is not always guaranteed. While most of the time, these sides are nothing serious but in other cases, they can lead to more serious complications.

We here at Doral Sedation & Family Dentistry believe in the importance of educating our patients about dental procedures, hygiene, and sedation techniques. With this in mind, we give you a short summary regarding certain side effects and risks one may encounter during oral sedation.

Side Effects

First and foremost, if used properly, sedatives have a low incidence of side effects and these are usually minor, and only rarely present an actual risk for the patient’s health.

However, the side effects you may (or may not experience) are the following:

Dry Mouth

A pretty common side effect of oral sedation medications is decreased salivary flow. This can lead to a dry mouth feeling to the patient which usually lasts until the drug’s effects wear off. While this can cause a feeling of discomfort to the patient, it helps the dentist to perform the treatment more easily in a dryer environment.


Retrograde Amnesia

Some of the sedation medication used in dentistry have amnesic effects that may make it difficult for many patients to recall their dental treatment. This side effect can be regarded as an advantage to some since not all patients like to remember their dental surgeries. This can sometimes make perfect sense.


For some people (usually smokers or who take other drugs) sedatives may not work as desired and medications fail to provide the expected anti-anxiety effects.


A low number of patients will experience hiccups lasting for only a few minutes after using oral sedation medication.

Other Side Effects
Other side effects which may occur include light-headedness, dizziness, visual disturbances, headache, hangover/jet lag feeling, nausea, amnesia or allergic reactions. These side effects rarely get serious to require medical attention.

The Risks

In most cases, risks associated with oral sedation are related to over-sedation. Reaching a deeper level of sedation than desired can turn out to be dangerous, especially for medically compromised patients. To avoid these risks, dentists usually use the lowest dosages of sedative agents.

Who are at Increased Risk of Developing Complications?

Patients with cardiac, pulmonary, hepatic, renal or CNS disease, patients who are obese, have sleep apnea or who are older. Pregnant patients and alcohol/drug abusers may also be at an increased risk. Oral sedatives tend to have a greater effect in the elderly (sedation with the combination of medications they are already taking may lead to over-sedation). Over-sedation can lead to complications of the cardiovascular or/and respiratory functions, causing serious damage to the health and in some rare cases may even result in death. This is why it’s of utmost importance to continuously monitor patients under sedation to prevent any risks.

The Takeaway

All in all, oral sedation holds only a few side effects and very few risks and only a low percentage of people may be unfortunate enough experiencing them during their treatment. However, if you would like to know more about these side effects or patient monitoring, feel free to give us a call and we will answer all of your questions.

Don’t forget, we here at Doral Sedation & Family Dentistry care about our patients. In every aspect.