Sedation Dentistry in Raleigh, NC

Dental phobia is a real, often overwhelming reality for thousands of people.  Negative previous dental experiences, fear of needles or drills, and severe gag reflexes are just some of the reasons people feel extreme anxiety when thinking about visiting the dentist.

Our office offers our patients the option of a deeper form sedation for their dental treatment.  This is what sets our office apart from other dental practices, and we find that it helps to alleviate any anxiety or fear that many patients have experienced in other practices.  The doctors at Renaissance Dental Center have teamed up Dr. Dillon Atwood to provide this type of care.  Dr. Atwood is one of only a few dental anesthesiologists in North Carolina. He works with Renaissance Dental Center to provide all levels of anesthesia to our patients.  Patients may choose from a level of comfortable, relaxed sedation to a deep sleep through their dental treatment.

If you suffer from dental phobia- fear no more!  At Renaissance Dental Center, we are committed to understanding the very real nature of your fears.  Not only will our team treat you with delicacy and care, but a deeper level of anesthesia will allow you experience dentistry in a whole new way.  While engaging in a pleasant sleep-like experience, the doctors at Renaissance Dental Center will be hard at work making sure you "wake up" with the results you desire.

Beautiful getting woman inhalation sedation at dental clinic

Renaissance Dental Center is located in Raleigh, NC but graciously provide comprehensive Dental Services to all surrounding areas including Cary, Apex, Wake Forest, and Garner.

Dr. Dillon Atwood, DDS

Dr. Atwood has a Bachelors of Science in Biology from Davidson College and attended dental school at the UNC School of Dentistry.  He completed a residency in Anesthesiology at Lutheran Medical Center in New York before returning to North Carolina.

Dillon Atwood, DDS
North State Anesthesiology
Chapel Hill, NC

The Art of Your Smile

Renaissance Dental Center the Triangle’s award winning general and cosmetic dentists


Dentistry under sedation is no longer just for incredibly complicated procedures and surgeries. Our dental professionals know that even an annual cleaning can be extremely uncomfortable to some patients. Our office wants to guarantee your comfort by providing the different levels of sedation.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry is the act of any dental procedure (both surgical and non-surgical) that is performed with the patient under a certain level of sedation. Stronger doses can be administered as well as lower doses depending on the complication level of the procedure. The level of sedation can also depend on the amount of sedation the patient wants, some patients will prefer to be completely “asleep” during their appointment. The dental professional will work on every aspect of the patient's mouth and will be finished when the patient “wakes up”.

In the past, dental sedation was only used for large procedures such as root canals or major tooth extractions (surgical). In today’s time, sedation dentistry can even be used for a basic cleaning, simply to relieve stress and anxiety, as well as to numb the areas that will be worked on.

Levels of Sedation Dentistry

  • Mild: This is an average form of sedation. This relaxes patients enough to reduce their anxiety incredibly. The patient remains fully awake but won’t feel any pain. Some patients feel pressure (depending on the procedure) but the pain is gone. This is a great way to be awake, but still feel relaxed during a dental visit.
  • Medium: This is the next level up and is a much heavier dosage. A sedative pill is given to the patient about an hour before the appointment and creates an extremely relaxed state of mind for the patient. In fact, many patients report not remembering the appointment or procedures performed. It will be necessary to have a friend drive you home after being under this type of sedation.
  • Deep: This is the highest level of sedation. The goal of this level is to ensure the patient is nearly “asleep” and cannot respond nor feel anything happening in the mouth or even around them. This type of sedation is usually administered through an IV in the bloodstream and will likely take longer to fade. It is recommended to have a close friend or family member around at all times to ensure the patient's safety before, during and after the procedure.

Benefits of Sedation Dentistry

  • Reduces Anxiety: Like many patients, getting anxious before and during a dental appointment is incredibly normal. Sedation dentistry reduces and sometimes removes those anxious emotions and allows you to be comfortable during your appointment.
  • Reduces Gum & Tooth Sensitivity: Even if you don’t feel anxious during a dental appointment, it can be tough to feel comfortable during your visit if you experience tooth or gum sensitivity. It’s important for your dental professional to clean these areas and sensitivity can make this phase extremely uncomfortable. Sedation dentistry can reduce or even remove the pain of sensitive teeth and gums altogether.
  • Reduces the Gag Reflux: Another reason a patient may opt for a level of sedation during their dental appointment is to reduce their uncontrollable or sensitive gag reflux. Sometimes your dental professional may need to hold your tongue out of the way or reach back all the way to clean your teeth and gums, and it can be uncomfortable and even embarrassing if you cannot control that reflux. Do not worry, this is completely normal. Talk to your dentist about sedation dentistry.

Different Types of Sedation

  • Nitrous Oxide: Otherwise known as “laughing gas”. This type of sedation is a gas that is administered through a mouthpiece and the patient breathes it in. This method is used often because it works almost immediately and relieves the patient of any pain. It’s quite a mild level of sedation as it doesn’t actually put the patient to “sleep” but it does slightly make the patient unaware of things such as place and time.
  • Intravenous Anesthesia: This type of sedation is administered through an IV through the bloodstream. Once injected, it only takes moments for the sedation to take full effect. This is used for longer procedures as it works perfectly for bigger or more invasive appointments. The patient “wakes up” feeling as though they slept through the whole appointment. The patient may experience some drowsiness after waking up and will need a friend to drive them home safely.
  • Oral Sedation: If a patient stresses over needles, this is the best option. This is taken orally and provides a deep sedation and makes the patients feel as though they are heavy with sleep. Most patients do sleep under this sedation!

Anna Abernethy, DDS

Dr. Abernethy grew up in Concord, North Carolina, however, she has called Raleigh "home" for the past 20 years. She came to Raleigh to attend college and graduated from Meredith College Magna Cum Laude in 2001 with a BS in biology and a minor in chemical physics.

Jill Sonner, DDS

Dr. Sonner was born and raised in Raleigh NC, and she attended both UNC Wilmington and North Carolina State University. She received her undergraduate degree from NCSU in 1999 with high honors, obtaining a BS in Biological Sciences. During college she supported research staff at NIEHS and performed an independent study focusing on Diabetes.

Anita Jones Wells, DDS

Dr. Wells is a North Carolina native who grew up in the Pinehurst area and has spent the past 10 years studying and practicing dentistry in Chapel Hill. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she completed both her Bachelor of Science in Biology and her Doctor of Dental Surgery, graduating with honors.


General Dentistry

We each enjoy doing a broad range of procedures. This allows us to provide many services in-house rather than referring patients out as much as possible. From simple tooth colored fillings to surgical procedures, we enjoy offering a range of options for our patients.

Cosmetic Dentistry

We have all devoted many hours to advanced training under the direction of Frank Spear who is world renowned for cosmetic repair of the most worn or severely damaged teeth. We appreciate the impact a beautiful attractive smile has on one’s self confidence and can deliver remarkable cosmetic results for people needing a various degrees of smile design.

Dental Implants

We have each received our implant fellowship with the International Dental Implant Association under the direction of Oral Surgeon Dr. Garg and have been placing dental implants since 2005. Implants are a rehabilitative option for patients needing to replace missing teeth or anchor dentures.

Dental Grafting

We offer a minimally invasive alternative option for covering exposed roots caused by recession that does not involve extensive roof of the mouth grafting, called the Gumdrop Technique.

Sedation Dentistry

Dental procedures can be often overwhelming due to phobia, and needed appointments to the dental office are often delayed or even avoided entirely. Our office offers multiple levels of sedation to make sure you're visiting as often as suggested.

Dental Crowns

Your smile may become damaged, decayed, or need cosmetic repair and jeopardizing your oral health. Dental crowns are the perfect solution for such patients. Restore your teeth back to a beautiful and healthy shine.

Porcelain Veneers

Sometimes aspects of your teeth cannot be changed as easily. In these cases, to get the healthy cosmetic smile you're looking for porcelain veneers are the perfect solution.


We have been using digital impressions and 3D printing since 2010. This technique allows us to eliminate many steps that commonly amount to error. Computer aided design allows us to make and deliver restorations in the same visit preventing additional appointments and taking advantage of the patient being numbed only one time.

Teeth Whitening

In today’s world, white teeth are the norm and if yours are yellow or discolored it affects your self confidence. Something as simple as whitening can drastically change your appeal. In the past most of the whitening options caused tooth sensitivity. We offer an array of choices that are tailored to avoid sensitivity while giving you the best outcome.

Laser Therapies

We all hate those dreadful fever blisters. Did you know if you laser them when you feel that very first tingle they won’t erupt? Suffer no more from unsightly sores, we offer this as quick and painless option.