What Is Oral Sedation Dentistry?

Having regular visits to the dentist is essential to keeping your teeth and gums healthy. However, if you are among those who experience anxiety, making dental appointments can be quite a challenge. Thanks to available sedation techniques, stress over dental treatments need not be overly experienced.

One of the more popular sedation techniques is oral sedation dentistry. Oral sedation, as the term implies, is a technique used by dentists to help patients cope with dental fear and anxiety by administering sedative drugs in the form of a pill or liquid that the patient will have to take prior to the dental procedure. This type of sedation falls under what is called anxiolysis, or the lightest form of sedation dentistry, although higher doses of oral sedatives could provided for moderate sedation.

Patients undergoing dental treatment with the help of an oral sedative feel relaxed while remaining conscious. A patient should take oral sedatives only as prescribed by the dentist. Consultations with a dentist should be made first before taking an oral sedative to ensure that the patient is a suitable candidate for this type of sedation. The dentist will have to take the patient’s medical history into account to decide which oral sedative is the most suitable for the patient, requiring the patient to give a full and honest disclosure of medical history and drug usage. In selecting the oral sedative drug to be used, the dentist will also have to consider other factors such as the invasiveness, and estimated duration of the dental procedure that the patient will have to undergo. The most commonly prescribed oral sedatives include Valium, Halcion, Sonata, Ativan, Vistaril, and Versed.

A companion is usually required for a patient who will be taking oral sedatives due to the drowsiness the patient may experience while under the influence of the medication. One of the main advantages of oral sedation technique is that it is the most patient-friendly compared to other sedation methods. It is as simple as taking a pill, unlike having a needle inserted into your vein, as with IV sedation, or inhaling nitrous oxide gas through a mask, as with inhalation sedation. Oral sedation is also considered to be generally accepted by most patients due to the fact that most people have taken prescription drugs in the form of oral medications.

While other sedation techniques offer a higher level of sedation, the low cost of oral sedation makes it the better alternative, especially for patients who would only need light to moderate sedation. However, unlike other sedation techniques, oral sedation does not provide an analgesic effect to the patient. Local anesthesia will still have to be administered to the patient to provide pain-relief. The fact that it will take 30 minutes to 2 hours for oral sedation to take full effect can be considered a disadvantage of this technique versus the shorter latent period of other sedation techniques, which range from only 3 to 10 minutes. Oral sedation also requires longer recovery time of about 24 hours, before the patient can return to normal activities. Nevertheless, oral sedation is still considered a safe and convenient method used to relax patients to allow them to have necessary dental treatments.