In Houston and Memorial City, Texas

If going to the dentist causes you anxiety, you’re not alone; millions of Americans forego dental care altogether out of dental phobia. However, even delaying routine cleanings can have harmful and long-lasting effects on your teeth. 

At Bunker Hill Dentistry, we believe you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your oral health to protect your mental health, or vice versa. Our office operates with your peace of mind a top priority and we have taken several steps to help reduce dental anxiety.

One of those steps is to offer a number of sedation options. We can tailor pain management to your needs (and anxiety level) so that your treatment will be painless and you can relax both before your treatment and throughout your visit.


Sedation Dentistry Options at Bunker Hill Dentistry

In addition to local anesthetic, we offer three different types of sedation at Bunker Hill Dentistry:


Nitrous oxide


Commonly referred to as “laughing gas”, nitrous oxide is a safe, mild sedative that the patient breathes through a facemask. The colorless, odorless (although it’s often scented for children’s use) gas slows down your body’s reaction time, both reducing anxiety and numbing you against pain while leaving you conscious. Nitrous oxide gets its nickname because some patients giggle as a result of their lowered inhibitions, and you may feel a tingling sensation, light-headedness, or heaviness in your limbs. 

Nitrous oxide is a helpful sedation tool because although you’ll be awake and able to communicate with the doctor while under its effects, they dissipate within minutes after removing the mask. Inhaling oxygen after using nitrous oxide helps prevent headaches, and you won’t have any “hangover” effects from the gas and you’ll be able to drive and otherwise go about your day after your procedure.    


Oral sedation

White pills spilling out of pink medication bottle

For minimal to moderate levels of sedation, we can provide oral medication in the form of a pill taken one hour before your treatment. This will be a second pill if the doctor prescribes an anti-anxiety medication to be taken the night before your office visit. Although oral sedation is not as easily tailored as nitrous oxide, it has the benefit of being needle-free, it’s easily administered, and it renders you unable to recall the dental procedure and any associated pain.

Once the day-of pill takes effect, you will be able to communicate with the dentist at least at first, although you may be quite groggy or even fall asleep, but you can be easily wakened after your treatment is over. 

Possible side effects include nausea, dizziness, and headaches, although these should cease within a few hours. You will need someone to drive you home after oral sedation. 


General anesthesia

Dental patient under general anesthesia

When under general anesthesia, you will be completely unconscious, and won’t even remember your procedure after it’s over. Because general anesthesia carries heightened risks and takes longer to recover from, we reserve this sedation method for only the most invasive and/or lengthiest procedures. 

General anesthesia is started with either an IV or a breathing mask, followed by a nasal breathing apparatus or breathing tube inserted down your throat. Your breathing and vital signs are closely monitored throughout your procedure, and for about 30 minutes after it concludes. Afterward, you may experience dizziness or nausea, and will probably feel tired or slow for at least several hours. Someone will need to drive you home after your dental treatment with general anesthesia. 


Sedation Methods at Bunker Hill Dentistry- Comparison

Type Pain felt? Sedation level Will you be able to communicate? Applicability to patients How long before you should fast? Time for effects to wear off Will you need a ride home?
Nitrous oxide No Minimal Yes Wide 2 hours About 5 minutes No
Oral sedation No Moderate Varies Most cases 6 hours Up to 8 hours Yes
General anesthesia No Total No Limited 8 hours Up to 24 hours Yes


Other Ways We Help You Relax

From the calming art pieces on the walls to the memory-foam cushions in the dentist chairs, our office is designed to maximize relaxation. During your treatment, we can provide blankets, pillows, and sunglasses to shield your eyes from the operatory light. We can also play music or a fun movie or TV show to distract you while we work on your teeth.

In addition, we can apply local anesthesia to a particular tooth to numb it. This provides an additional layer of pain protection to use along with sedation. Best of all, there are no needles involved; Dr. Le applies it with a computer-assisted delivery wand that avoids leaving your face, lips, or tongue numb, as often happens with syringe applications. 

Depending on your condition, it may even be possible to treat you with a laser and avoid the need for sedation. Lasers can be used to whiten teeth, perform biopsies, and treat tooth decay, gum disease, canker sores, and more, often resulting in lower anxiety and less pain.


Why Bunker Hill Dentistry?
Dr. Le and Ann Le

Dr. Le and his wife and office manager Ann Le

Specialists – Our team–led by our experienced dentist, Dr. Le–can put you at ease with skillfully applied and safe sedation techniques.

Serene setting – Our office is designed to provide a calm, relaxing environment to help put your mind at ease during treatment. Take a tour.

 Client satisfaction – We have one mission – total client satisfaction. “Care, Comfort, Convenience”  is our guarantee to every client. More about Bunker Hill Dentistry.

Bunker Hill Dentistry Lobby View

Reception room at Bunker Hill Dentistry

State of the art – We utilize the most advanced technology such as the i-CAT 3D x-ray machine, All-On-4® implants and an anesthesia-delivery wand, for faster and more accurate diagnosis and treatment.

 Conveniently located – Located in Memorial, just a short drive from Houston’s city center. Find us on the map.


Who Are Good Candidates for Sedation Dentistry?

If any of the following describes you, it may be advisable for you to take advantage of sedation:

  • You have low pain tolerance.
  • You’ve been diagnosed with anxiety, or feel overly anxious or afraid of visiting the dentist.
  • You have difficulty sitting still in the dentist’s chair.
  • You have an overactive gag reflex.
  • Your teeth are very sensitive.
  • You need extensive dental work done.


Sedation and Children

Something as common as a filling may necessitate the need for a child to be sedated during his or her visit if he or she can’t sit still for the required amount of time or is too frightened to relax. Nitrous oxide is the most common tool for this. 

Moderate oral sedation can also be used, as can general anesthesia. However, this level of sedation has been found to raise the risk of developmental problems in very young children and thus should be reserved for older kids and adults and only in extreme cases. 


Sedation Dentistry FAQs

Is sedation safe?

Although it’s not completely risk-free, sedation is safer than ever before and even those with underlying medical conditions can undergo it without serious problems. Nevertheless, Dr. Le will go over your medical history in your consultation to ensure you can safely receive sedation if you are in a higher-risk category, such as obese patients or those with sleep apnea.  


Will I feel pain?

Sedation paired with local anesthesia should render your procedure absolutely pain-free. However, some patients may experience slight pain, or discomfort from pressure being applied inside the mouth, but each of these will be easily tolerated. 

You should not feel anything beyond very minor, momentary pain until the medication wears off, at which point you may need to begin pain medication that the doctor can prescribe. If you do feel pain at any time during your treatment, let the dentist know so that he can adjust the level of your sedation. 


Can I ask the dentist for sedation?

Of course! We want you to be comfortable at all times when you’re at our practice, and that includes asking questions and making requests. It’s likely that during your consultation Dr. Le will recognize a need for sedation and suggest it himself, but if he doesn’t, you can request it, and he will let you know what options are available to you. 


What dental procedures need sedation?

It’s common for patients to receive some level of sedation when undergoing the following treatments:

  • tooth extraction


During regular checkups and cleanings, sedation is not necessary.


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Not been to Bunker Hill Dentistry before? Read how to prepare for your first visit in our FAQs.