Palm Beach

Chirn Park

Pain-Free Dentistry: What Is Twilight Sedation?


For some patients, booking a dental appointment is just one more thing to tick off their to-do list, like cleaning the house or doing the groceries. For others though, it’s not quite so easy if they have a fear of the dentist which leads to avoidance of dental treatment and the deterioration of their oral health.

If you experience dental anxiety and want to overcome it, you’ll be reassured to know that there are plenty of strategies and options to help! One of the most effective solutions for dental phobia offered by our Gold Coast dentists is twilight anesthesia, which is a very safe and comfortable form of sedation where you remain awake but in an extremely relaxed state for pain-free dentistry.

We’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions below when it comes to receiving your dental treatment under twilight sedation!

Article Summary

  • What is twilight sedation?
  • Who is twilight sedation suitable for?
  • Which dental treatments can twilight sedation be used for?
  • What are the side effects of twilight sedation?
  • Twilight anesthesia VS general anesthesia
  • Are you awake during twilight sedation?
  • Can you talk during twilight sedation?
  • How long does it take for twilight sedation to wear off?

What is twilight sedation?

Twilight sedation is a controlled dose of a combination of intravenous anaesthetic, sedative and pain relieving medications through a drip into the arm or hand. The medication causes the patient to feel sleepy, calm and very relaxed by slowing the central nervous system, although they are still able to fully respond. They are aware of their surroundings, but are less reactive to external stimuli, such as the feeling of dental tools in the mouth, sounds or smells.

Twilight sedation is also known as:

  • Twilight anesthesia
  • Intravenous sedation/IV sedation
  • Conscious sedation
  • Sleep dentistry (when administered during a dental procedure)

Who is twilight sedation suitable for?

In addition to patients who are anxious or experience dental phobia, IV sedation is also suitable for those who:

  • Have difficulty keeping their mouth open
  • Have a strong gag reflex
  • Require a significant amount of treatment

Treatment for these patients will be significantly more comfortable when sedated, and make it easier for the dentist to complete their treatment.

Which dental treatments can twilight sedation be used for?

Shorter dental treatments like check-up and cleans or fillings are usually numbed with a local anesthetic for a more comfortable experience. 

Twilight sedation is better suited for anxious patients during longer treatments, including:

Your dentist can perform these treatments without you feeling stressed, anxious or in pain, for the smoothest and most comfortable experience.

It is also ideal in situations where you require more than one procedure, so instead of splitting the treatment up into several appointments, you can get them all over and done with in one hit. 


What are the side effects of twilight sedation?

Side effects and complications are rare with IV sedation. A very small minority of patients have dream-like recollections of the experience and can recall features of the clinic or verbal conversations but these are not distressing.

IV sedation is generally very well tolerated and side effects/complications are rare and are more infrequent than compared with general anaesthesia.

Transient minor side-effects can include dizziness and nausea. Intravenous anti-nausea medications are also given so the risk of nausea is extremely low.

Twilight anesthesia VS general anesthesia

Although twilight anesthesia and general anesthesia are both used to reduce the pain, stress and anxiety associated with some dental treatments, there are a few key differences to keep in mind. 

General anesthesia is also delivered intravenously (into the veins), although keeps the patient completely unconscious until after the treatment is complete. It can take a few hours for the patient to become fully responsive after the effects of the general anesthetic wear off.

In comparison, twilight sedation allows you to remain conscious and offers a faster recovery time. It is safer and has minimal side effects compared to undergoing a general anaesthetic.

It can also be administered outside of a hospital, directly in the dental clinic such as Oasis Dental Studio where you are monitored the whole way through the procedure by a highly experienced anesthetist alongside your dentist who performs your treatment. These are some of the key benefits of twilight anesthesia.

Are you awake during twilight sedation?

You are awake during twilight anesthesia, and as mentioned above it relaxes you to the point where you will feel no anxiety, pain or fear, while not really noticing the treatment occurring. It can also cause you to experience little to no memory of the procedure, but without affecting your long-term memory. This reduces the fear of future visits as you won’t be able to recall any unpleasant memories during your treatment!

Can you talk during twilight sedation?

You will be able to respond and follow simple instructions or directions from your dentist and the team throughout your treatment. 


How long does it take for twilight sedation to wear off?

While under the effects of the anesthetic, you’ll feel like no time has passed at all. Recovery after IV sedation is usually quick and typically takes between 20-30 minutes. Once you are alert and can independently walk steadily you can then be discharged home in the care of a nominated responsible adult. You will require a responsible adult to accompany and drive you home and on the first night you should also be accompanied overnight by this person. 

While you may feel quite alert after the IV sedation, the IV medications take time to be completely eliminated from the body. Your cognition, judgement, coordination, reflexes and balance will all take some time to return completely back to normal. It is medically recommended that you return home and rest. You may feel tired or sleepy for a few hours.

For 24 hours after IV sedation, you can’t:

  • Drive
  • Make important decisions
  • Use any dangerous equipment or tools
  • Operate machinery
  • Sign any legal documents
  • Drink alcohol
  • Exercise or perform any other strenuous activity

Sleep dentistry on the Gold Coast

To find out more about IV sedation and to see if it’s a suitable option to help overcome your fear of visiting the dentist, our amazing team at our Gold Coast dental clinics are more than happy to answer any enquiries you may have! Please feel free to get in touch below:


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