What is oral sedation dentistry? If you become frightened and anxious when facing a dental appointment or procedure, sedatives (also called “anxiolytics” meaning they dissolve anxiety), can completely transform the experience. Oral sedatives (taken by mouth) allow you to relax your mind and body so that you feel comfortable while in the dental chair.
How does anxiety affect my pain response? When you are afraid, your pain threshold is reduced. You experience a rush of adrenalin and you tense your muscles. As a result you end up in a state of heightened sensitivity. With sedation this sensitivity to pain vanishes along with your fear and anxiety.
What are some of the oral sedatives that my dentist may use? Most of the medications used in oral sedation dentistry belong to a class of medications called benzodiazepines, tried and tested over decades to be safe and effective. They are used in the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and agitation. They include Valium®, Halcion®, Ativan®, and Versed®.
I'd just like to forget the experience after it is over. Can oral sedation help? Some of the medications prescribed as oral sedatives have amnesic properties (“a” – without; “mnesia” – memory). This means you will have little memory of the time in the dental chair when your procedure is finished.
What does my dentist need to know in order to prescribe the right oral sedation? We need a thorough medical and dental history, including all medical conditions you may have, and all medications you are taking — both prescription and over-the-counter (including allergies, alternative medications and even herbal supplements). We will also ask you whether you eat certain foods that could interfere with a sedative's effects.
How are the oral sedatives administered? Oral medications are either placed under the tongue (sub-lingual), and allowed to dissolve and then swallowed, or they may be swallowed whole. They are safe, effective, and fast acting. After the sedation takes effect, it will be easier to experience injections of local anesthesia if needed to numb your gums for the dental procedure.
What do I need to do before and after my appointment? Follow all directions we give you about restricting food and drink before your appointment. Until the medication wears off you may not be able to drive, operate heavy machinery or work so be sure to make arrangements to take time off and to have someone drive you to and from the appointment.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to talk about any fears you may have about dental treatments. Using oral sedation, we can make sure that you have a relaxing experience. Oral sedation allows you to relax both your mind and body, and focus on feeling peaceful rather than anxious. You can learn more about oral sedation dentistry in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Sedation Dentistry.”
For some people, going to the dentist is just like any other routine healthcare visit that they manage without any qualms. For others, the experience can cause some trepidation or even anxiety. In fact, some people even contemplate canceling appointments and neglecting their oral healthcare. If the latter better describes how you or someone you know feels about going to the dentist — even for a routine exam and cleaning — then we have great news for you! We offer our patients oral sedation (sedation dentistry) that allows you to relax both your mind and body so that you can focus on feeling peaceful and at ease rather than anxious.
Often referred to as “comfortable” or “relaxation” dentistry, sedation dentistry offers an approach to dentistry that includes gentle management of your anxiety by using an anti-anxiety prescription medication that simply dissolves away your anxiety. The medications are administered by mouth (orally) to help transition you from feeling nervous to a more comfortable state of being.
Another reason oral sedation is so popular is because it does not require an injection (shot), so, if you are afraid of needles, you simply do not need to worry. Typically, a pill is first placed under your tongue (sub-lingually) where it dissolves and penetrates the skin going straight into your system and then the rest is simply swallowed. This method and the quick-acting sedation medication make relaxation both effective and safe.
Pharmacists and health professionals measure medications' effectiveness by measuring their “therapeutic index.” The larger the number is on this scale, the safer the drug. The oral sedation medications we use have the highest numbers possible on this scale and thus they are the least likely to cause any adverse (negative) reactions.
Oral sedation can be an ideal and safe solution for someone who suffers from fear and anxiety regarding dental appointments — the very reason we offer it to our patients. However, there are some things you need to do prior to and following your treatment for optimal oral sedation benefits and treatment results.
When it comes to patient comfort, one of the most important developments of the 21st century has been sedation dentistry, which enables you to relax in both mind and body allowing you to focus on feeling peaceful rather than anxious. And the prescription medications we use are some of the safest on the “therapeutic index” (the scale pharmacists and health professionals use to measure the safety of medications.) However, it is critical that we are aware of any medications you are already taking and your medical health and history, so let us know all about you so that we can avoid adverse (negative) reactions. Please note that we will take a full history to gain this information prior to any treatment or sedation — our utmost concern is your safety. During this time, it is vital that you are honest and feel comfortable sharing your responses to our questions. It's also our way of getting to know you and the first stage in relieving your anxiety. We will need to know all about: