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Oral Sedation

 It’s Easy to Swallow

Dental sedation has become a popular part of modern dentistry. With so many patients putting off dental visits out of dental fear or anxiety, the dental industry has stepped up with a solution to their problems.

Dentists now use several forms of sedation dentistry to help their patients get the dental treatment they need. One such technique is called oral sedation and while it’s been around for decades, it’s been gaining steam as a preferred form of dental sedation.

A type of conscious sedation, oral sedation puts you in a relaxed state during dental procedures. Oral sedation dentistry is exactly what it sounds like: drugs taken orally to relieve dental fear and anxiety. Oral sedation is sometimes called sleep dentistry, although you’ll remain conscious and be able to respond to your dentist’s commands during the procedure.

Information That’s Easy to Swallow

Your sedation dentist will most likely prescribe you benzodiazepine — commonly known as a Valium®, Xanax® or Halcion®. Benzodiazepines are depressants that affect the central nervous system. Oral sedation works in two ways: as a sedative to make you feel sleepy and as an anti-anxiety medication to relieve anxiety. While all oral sedatives contain both agents, the levels will vary according to the drug.

Oral sedation ranges from light to moderate. With light sedation, you will feel relaxed while staying awake. Although you will also remain conscious with moderate sedation, you will become sleepy and experience reduced motor skills. Your dentist will decide what type of drug and dosage are right for your situation.

Keep in mind that oral sedation is not a painkiller, and local anesthetic will still be necessary. Regardless, oral sedation is an excellent solution for those who have a fear of needles. Your sedation dentist will not inject you until the drugs have taken effect.

Take a Chill Pill

You’ll be asked to take the medication about an hour before your dental appointment in order for the drugs to fully take effect. For more extreme cases, your dentist may prescribe a sedative for you to take the evening before the appointment so that you can rest.

Following your appointment, you may feel groggy and will probably not remember much about the dental procedure. You will need to make transportation arrangements, as you won’t be able to drive yourself to and from the dental office. You should also not to drive or operate machinery for 24 hours following the appointment. Although rare, side effects may include nausea and vomiting.

Most patients fully recover by the next day. To insure a speedy recovery, follow your dentist’s post-treatment directions. If you have any problems with the medication or still feel tired after 24 hours, contact your dentist.

Join the Crowd

Many dental patients can benefit from the effects of oral sedation dentistry. If you fall under one of these categories, oral sedation may be for you:

  • Patients who have an extreme fear or phobia of visiting the dentist
  • Patients who suffer from anxiety that affects their behavior in the dental chair
  • Patients who experience a gag reflex
  • Those who don’t numb easily from novocaine or need several injections for local anesthetic to take effect
  • Patients who require a lot of dental work in one visit
  • Those who haven’t been to the dentist for a long time
  • Patients who are scared of needles — oral sedation may be a better option than IV sedation, as no needles are involved prior to the drugs taking effect.

For Safety’s Sake

Oral sedation is safe when prescribed by your dentist and used correctly. As with any drug, oral sedation shouldn’t be abused or mixed with other depressants or alcohol. Be sure to tell your sedation dentist about the prescription drugs you’re taking, and be honest about any drug use or alcohol consumption. Open communication between you and your sedation dentist will ensure you the best in dental care.

If dental fear or anxiety is keeping you away from the dentist, oral sedation may be the answer. Speak with your dentist about your dental sedation options.

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