Everything You Need to Know About Oral Sedation Dentistry

Many people who are terrified of going to the dentist tend to avoid going in to get treatment, even if it is just a cleaning. For some people, the simple thought of a dental visit invokes terror, and they resolve to bear the discomfort, self-medicating until that can no longer suffice.

Many times, they allow their conditions to deteriorate so badly that, it may result in the loss of a tooth which could otherwise have been saved. For such people, oral sedation dentistry is just what they need to allay their fears and ensure that they receive the best dental care regardless of the fear.

What Is Oral Sedation Dentistry?

Oral sedation dentistry has to do with the method dentists use to help patients relax, by means of medication. These medications come in the form of anxiolytics or sedatives, which are given orally and serve to calm the patient, so they can have a relaxing experience during the procedure. The fact is that the more anxious a patient is, the lower their threshold for pain will be and the greater will be their perception of discomfort. They may even imagine they are feeling pain when there is none.

The level of sedatives given will depend on the severity of the patient’s fear and may be on several levels.

  1. When minimal sedation, is administered the patient is still wide awake and totally aware of what is happening but they are in a relaxed state.
  2. With moderate sedation, the patient may not be able to fully remember what took place during the procedure, even though they were awake. This level produces amnesic properties and the effects are short term. It may also result in them temporarily having slurred speech until the effects fully wear off.
  3. When deep sedation is given, the patient is on the border of consciousness, but still not aware of the procedure taken place. It is easy to be awoken form a deep sedative.

The oral sedatives come in the form of a class of prescription drugs known as benzodiazepines, which are strong sedatives and are very effective in small doses.

How Safe Is Oral Sedation?

These drugs have what is called a high therapeutic index, which means that they are deemed as very safe and very unlikely to result in lasting or damaging side effects. They have also undergone extensive testing under stringent measures to ensure that they do not pose any harm to patients. They allow patients to have a comfortable experience and also permit dentists to work comfortably and efficiently. For the patient, the procedure would have seemed to pass within a mere matter of minutes.

Prior to administering the sedatives, your dentist will speak with you to find out any features of your history which may influence the choice of sedative. Certain supplements and medications you might be taking may cause interference or interact with the sedative and the way it performs. It is therefore important for you to declare fully to your dentist any prescription or over the counter drugs you may be taking, as well as supplements. Also let your dentist know about lifestyle habits you may have such as smoking or drinking, as well as health conditions for which you are being treated.

You will be cautioned not to consume grapefruit up to three days before your procedure, as it will interfere with the metabolism of the sedative and cause it to lose efficacy.

How Are the Sedatives Administered?

The good news is that the sedatives are given orally, so you do not have to be afraid of a painful injection. Your dentist may allow you to swallow it, or place it under your tongue, where it will be rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. The medication will take effect within minutes, allowing the dentist to begin working.

In some cases the dentist will allow the patient to take it from the night before and help in the relaxation process from this early stage. You will be able to enjoy a restful night of sleep and be in a good frame of mind for your visit the next day.

Measures To Take Before Oral Sedation

Prior to your visit you would have discussed with your doctor your medical history and current medical situation which will influence your care before and after the procedure. Also let him or her know about drinking or smoking habits.

Put an arrangement in place to have someone transport you to (if you took the sedative overnight) and from your appointment as it is ill-advised to be driving or using heavy machinery after sedation. You will also want to arrange for the appropriate amount of time away from work depending on the nature of your procedure.

Follow your dentist’s recommendations based on when to stop having solid food and drink prior to the procedure and remember to avoid grapefruit for 3 days prior. 

Speak to your dentist about any concerns you may have so that you can be fully comfortable with the sedation process. It would also be helpful for you to do a little research as well so you can be equipped with questions for your dentist and become even more comfortable with the method.


Author Bio – This guest article is a work of Paul Smith on behalf of www.thantakit.com, a trusted and longest established dental clinic in Bangkok, Thailand since 1945.