Posts for tag: sedation dentistry
What is oral sedation dentistry? If you become frightened and anxious when facing a dental appointment or procedure, sedatives (also called “anxiolytics” meaning they dissolve anxiety), can completely transform the experience. Oral sedatives (taken by mouth) allow you to relax your mind and body so that you feel comfortable while in the dental chair.
How does anxiety affect my pain response? When you are afraid, your pain threshold is reduced. You experience a rush of adrenalin and you tense your muscles. As a result you end up in a state of heightened sensitivity. With sedation this sensitivity to pain vanishes along with your fear and anxiety.
What are some of the oral sedatives that my dentist may use? Most of the medications used in oral sedation dentistry belong to a class of medications called benzodiazepines, tried and tested over decades to be safe and effective. They are used in the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and agitation. They include Valium®, Halcion®, Ativan®, and Versed®.
I'd just like to forget the experience after it is over. Can oral sedation help? Some of the medications prescribed as oral sedatives have amnesic properties (“a” – without; “mnesia” – memory). This means you will have little memory of the time in the dental chair when your procedure is finished.
What does my dentist need to know in order to prescribe the right oral sedation? We need a thorough medical and dental history, including all medical conditions you may have, and all medications you are taking — both prescription and over-the-counter (including allergies, alternative medications and even herbal supplements). We will also ask you whether you eat certain foods that could interfere with a sedative's effects.
How are the oral sedatives administered? Oral medications are either placed under the tongue (sub-lingual), and allowed to dissolve and then swallowed, or they may be swallowed whole. They are safe, effective, and fast acting. After the sedation takes effect, it will be easier to experience injections of local anesthesia if needed to numb your gums for the dental procedure.
What do I need to do before and after my appointment? Follow all directions we give you about restricting food and drink before your appointment. Until the medication wears off you may not be able to drive, operate heavy machinery or work so be sure to make arrangements to take time off and to have someone drive you to and from the appointment.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to talk about any fears you may have about dental treatments. Using oral sedation, we can make sure that you have a relaxing experience. Oral sedation allows you to relax both your mind and body, and focus on feeling peaceful rather than anxious. You can learn more about oral sedation dentistry in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Sedation Dentistry.”
Unfortunately, going to the dentist may still be a fear and anxiety provoking experience for some people even with modern dental techniques — an interesting phenomenon given the fact that no one is born with fear. It is either a learned response based on personal experience or one that is literally imagined based upon hearing of another's treatment. However, regardless of how it develops, a person's perception is their reality. The good news is that we are here to both listen and to offer our patients the benefits of oral sedation (sedation dentistry) that allows relaxation of mind and body. Thus you can focus on feeling peaceful rather than anxious.
While research has shown that 75% of all people surveyed have at least a little fear about going to the dentist, 10-15% have a great deal of fear. In fact, some of these people experience so much fear that they will cancel dental appointments or never schedule in the first place. If the latter describes your feelings, we encourage you to ask us about sedation or comfortable dentistry so that you can receive the oral healthcare you need and deserve to maintain optimal dental health.
And this good news gets even better when you understand that oral sedation does not even involve injections (shots)! We typically administer oral sedation in one of two methods: by giving you a pill to swallow whole or by giving you a tablet to place under your tongue (sub-lingually) where it dissolves. Once the prescription medication takes effect, you will remain awake and aware of your surroundings; however, the medication will help you transition from feeling nervous to a more comfortable state of being. Most of our patients describe their experience as “comfortable” or “relaxation” dentistry due to how they feel during their treatment. Simply put, the anti-anxiety (anxiolytic) medication almost literally dissolves away your fears.
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When it comes to patient comfort, one of the most important developments of the 21st century has been sedation dentistry, which enables you to relax in both mind and body allowing you to focus on feeling peaceful rather than anxious. And the prescription medications we use are some of the safest on the “therapeutic index” (the scale pharmacists and health professionals use to measure the safety of medications.) However, it is critical that we are aware of any medications you are already taking and your medical health and history, so let us know all about you so that we can avoid adverse (negative) reactions. Please note that we will take a full history to gain this information prior to any treatment or sedation — our utmost concern is your safety. During this time, it is vital that you are honest and feel comfortable sharing your responses to our questions. It's also our way of getting to know you and the first stage in relieving your anxiety. We will need to know all about:
- All medical conditions for which you are currently being treated.
- All prescription medications you are taking.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medications, remedies, or vitamins and/or supplements you are taking. This even includes aspirin, St. John's Wort, and Kava Kava. (Why? If taken daily for good heart health, aspirin thins your blood and thus may interfere with blood coagulation. And St. John's Wort and Kava Kava may be beneficial in helping relieve depression, but they can negatively impact how oral sedation medications work.)
- Foods and drinks you consume, such as alcohol and even grapefruit (juice or the fruit), can negatively impact how your body responds to both your treatment and sedation medications.
- And lastly, we need to know if you are a tobacco user — especially if you are a smoker. In addition to increasing your risks for oral and other cancers, tobacco can negatively influence the effectiveness of sedation medications.
Oral sedation can be an ideal and safe solution for someone who suffers from fear and anxiety regarding dental appointments — the very reason we offer it to our patients. However, there are some things you need to do prior to and following your treatment for optimal oral sedation benefits and treatment results.
- Being completely honest about your health history and any medication you are taking is a critical aspect, as it lets us know that oral sedation medication is safe and will work for you. We also ask you to let us know about any over-the-counter (OTC) medications, remedies, or vitamins and/or supplements you are taking. The reason this is so vital is that some can negatively impact your treatment, recovery, and the effectiveness of the oral sedation medications.
- You should not eat or drink anything six hours prior to your appointment unless we instruct you otherwise.
- You should make arrangements to have someone drive you to and from your appointment, as it may not be safe for you to drive or operate any heavy machinery until the effects of oral sedation have worn off. It is important to note that this will vary depending on what medication is used, so do not assume your reaction/response will always be the same.
- Drink plenty of fluids (especially water) to stay hydrated after your appointment.