Among the most common phobias, visiting the dentist causes many people severe anxiety and stress. Often, fearful patients forgo necessary dental care to avoid a visit to their dentist. If you find yourself feeling panicky at the thought of having your teeth worked on, you should know that a safe, comfortable relaxation method exists. Oral sedation alleviates anxiety, so you can face dental appointments with confidence.
What exactly does oral sedation entail?
If you fear dental appointments, call a dentist to determine if oral sedation is available for you based on your medical history and current medications. If you’re a good candidate for oral sedation, the dentist will select an appropriate anti-anxiety or sedative drug for you to take at a pre-determined time before your appointment. These safe, widely-prescribed drugs diminish anxiety and help patients relax.
Your anxiety level will help the dentist determine dosage, which in turn determines your consciousness level during the appointment. Some patients become so relaxed they drift off into a restful sleep during their dental procedures. Throughout your appointment, we will closely monitor your vital signs to ensure your safety. When you choose oral sedation, you must have a responsible adult who can drive you to and from your appointment and spend some time with you after the appointment until the sedative wears off completely.
Why choose oral sedation?
In general, patients choose oral sedation if they:
- experience severe anxiety and fear when faced with dental instruments
- put off important dental treatment because of fear
- have a sensitive gag reflex
- have trouble feeling numb after receiving local anesthetic
- cannot rest comfortably in a dentist’s exam chair due to neck or back problems
What risks and side effects are associated with oral sedation?
The anti-anxiety medications used to achieve oral sedation have been prescribed and studied for years, so potential side effects are widely documented. These drugs are generally safe for most patients and have a low incidence of side effects, which tend to be minor.
Typically, patients who receive oral sedation experience:
- Retrograde amnesia, in which they recall little to nothing about the dental procedure
- Decreased post-operative soreness
- Dry mouth
A very small percentage of patients may temporarily have hiccups after using oral sedation drugs.