Sedation dentistry allows patients who are extremely anxious about dental practices or have had negative experiences in the past, to have treatment done in a calming environment. Most patients can enjoy treatment without pain or needles, and few side effects. Many longer procedures can be done quickly and comfortably, and even patients who struggle with a strong gag reflex can benefit from sedation.
Do you experience high levels of anxiety when visiting the dentist? You may be a candidate for Sedation Dentistry.
Advantages to patients include:
- Treatment is completed when you are in a more relaxed mood.
- You will have less difficulty sitting through a lengthy procedure.
- Multiple treatments and full mouth restorations can occur at during the same visit.
- Less discomfort after treatment.
Oral conscious sedation is a method of moderate sedation that is given orally. Medications used may include Valium, Halcion, Ativan, and Versed, depending on the medical history of the patient and the severity of their fears. Most of these medications are benzodiazepines and are completely safe for most patients. Patients who want oral conscious sedation will need to arrange transportation to and from their appointment and they will want to take the remainder of the day off work or school to rest. These drugs decrease anxiety by binding and toning down activity within “fear” receptors in the brain.
There are two different types of Benzodiazepines:
- Sedative-Hypnotics: These drugs induce calm, including drowsiness and even sleep. This sleep state is actually a form of hypnosis which is a form of physiological sleep.
- Anti-Anxiety Drugs: These are drugs which relieve anxiety and induce a state of calm and relaxation.
While benzodiazepines act as sedatives AND anti-anxiety drugs, some are highly targeted at areas within the brain which focus on sleep. Others act in a more specific way and target fear centers in the brain. In most cases, higher doses act as sedatives and induce sleep, while in lower doses, they reduce anxiety without sedation.
Benzodiazepines are also Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants (i.e. there can be a decline in blood pressure and breathing). It is important to note that they shouldn’t be mixed with other CNS depressants such as alcohol. Its important that you utilize the dose your dentist or doctor recommends.
Please note that you shouldn’t travel on your own after you’ve taken any of these drugs. Make sure you have an escort, even if you traveled by bus or foot! It’s easy to become disorientated.
When not to take benzodiazepines
Some of these drugs can affect your liver and heart. It’s important to check with your practitioner and/or pharmacist. You should be sure to inform your doctor or dentist if any of the following apply: known allergy to the drug, narrow-angle glaucoma, pregnancy, severe respiratory disease (COPD), congestive heart failure (CHF), impaired kidney or liver function, depression/bipolar disorder/psychoses, chronic bronchitis and some other conditions. It’s also important to let us know if you are taking other medications. There could be possible drug interactions.