Oral Sedation for a Relaxing Dental Visit


Do you get anxious or nervous about going to the dentist? Perhaps these negative emotions stem from a painful dental procedure, or maybe someone you know had a traumatic experience at the dentist. “Dental phobia,” or the fear of dental treatment, is so common among patients that dentists are using an anti-anxiety medication to help reduce dental fears. This “anxiolytic” (dissolve anxiety) treatment is known as oral sedation. 

Administered orally (by mouth), these calming sedatives allow nervous patients to relax so your dentist can work more efficiently. When you are apprehensive your body responds by tensing up, which reduces your pain tolerance and intensifies every sensation you feel. A simple prick or scrape can suddenly feel excruciating, complicating matters for your hygienist and/or dentist. But with the help of oral sedation, you can overcome your fear and feel comfortable without having to experience absolute dental torture.

Is oral sedation safe?

Oral sedatives and anxiolytic medications used in dentistry are some of the safest treatments available in modern medicine. On the “therapeutic index,” a tool that measures safety for sedation medications, oral sedatives and anxiolytic medications rank the highest possible numbers on the scale, meaning they are the least likely to have a harmful effect. 

While oral sedation has been researched and tested for decades and has a successful track record of being safe, it’s important to give your dentist a complete history of your health to ensure its effectiveness. This includes talking to your dentist about: 

  • your diet
  • any existing medical condition
  • lifestyle habits such as smoking or alcohol consumption
  • all doctor-prescribed medications or over-the-counter drugs you’re taking (including aspirin, vitamins, or herbal supplements).

Benefits of Oral Sedation

Because patients can easily digest the sedatives, many patients prefer oral sedation treatment rather than intravenous sedation (administered by injection). This “painless” oral treatment is especially comforting for patients who fear needles. In some cases, oral sedation may even be cheaper to administer than intravenous sedation. 

Aside from its long safety record and high level of effectiveness, oral sedation also has amnesic characteristics, which means that most patients remember very little or sometimes nothing after receiving treatment.

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