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Oral Sedation Dentistry

Oral sedation allows you to relax both your mind and body, and focus on feeling peaceful rather than anxious

By Dr. Michael D. Silverman

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How to Ensure Safety — What to Let Your Dentist Know

It is critical to provide your dentist with a complete health history including:

  • Medical conditions for which you are being treated
  • Any and all medications prescribed by a doctor
  • Over-the-counter medications, remedies and vitamins (including aspirin)
  • Alternative or herbal supplements: Many people seek relief from depression and anxiety symptoms with natural remedies like St. John's Wort and Kava Kava. These may have a mild interaction with oral sedatives, so it's critical that you tell your dentist if you are taking them. The medications and dosages for your oral sedation treatment can be adjusted to compensate for any interactions.
  • Certain foods: Even something as seemingly insignificant as drinking grapefruit juice can have an effect on sedation. The enzymes in grapefruit interfere with the systems that metabolize (break down) certain oral sedation medications in your body, so you should not consume grapefruit 72 hours prior to or immediately after a sedation procedure.
  • Also be sure to tell your doctor about factors like smoking and alcohol consumption, since these can influence the effectiveness of sedation medications.

Administer the Medication Yourself

Oral sedation is a popular treatment option for many people because it does not require injection, so if you're afraid of “needles,” you needn't worry. In fact, once you're comfortable with oral sedatives, it may even be easier to have local anesthesia (numbing shots in the mouth) to further facilitate the ease of dental procedures.

Oral sedation is a popular treatment option for many people because it does not require injection, so if you're afraid of “needles,” you needn't worry.

Medications are given orally (by mouth). They are either placed and dissolved under the tongue, or they can just be swallowed whole.

Many dentists prefer the sublingual (under the tongue) route which works even more quickly. Taken this way they are absorbed into the bloodstream more rapidly. Both methods are safe and effective and work in a matter of minutes. You can even try the medication the night before to see how it affects you and also ensure a good night's sleep.

Planning for Your Appointment

Once you and your dentist decide to use oral sedation for your next appointment, you will need to make some preparations:

  • Your health history can affect your before-and-aftercare plans, especially for diabetics and smokers, so make sure your dentist knows about any medical conditions that you may have.
  • You may be instructed to take oral sedation medication the night before your appointment to make sure you get a good night's sleep.
  • You should not eat or drink anything six hours prior to your appointment unless directed by your dentist.
  • Be prepared to take time off from work following your appointment. For short appointments, only half a day may be necessary. If a longer appointment is planned, make arrangements to take the remainder of the day off.
  • You will need a companion to drive you to and from your appointment; you should not drive or operate heavy machinery until the medication has worn off; this will vary depending upon what drug has been prescribed — follow the directions exactly.
  • Be sure to stay hydrated and drink lots of fluids following your appointment.


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