For many patients, the idea of going to the dentist is scary. In fact, a odontophobia, or fear of the dentist, affects 30 to 40 million Americans. One of the ways we encourage people to overcome their fear of the dentist and ensure their teeth are being taken care of is through the use of sedation dentistry. Oral sedation is used to put patients in a semiconscious state, where they are slightly asleep but can be woken up with a gentle shake.
Some of the most common oral sedatives are:
These medications work by decreasing the part of the brain that controls fear and anxiety. When this center is suppressed, a person is much more calm and relaxed, which makes their visit to the dentist much more tolerable.
What are the advantages of oral sedation?
There are many advantages to this form of sedation.
Easy to administer. Prior to your appointment, Dr. Quartano will prescribe the best medication for you. After picking it up you’ll take the medication about an hour before the appointment so that you’re well relaxed by the time your appointment time comes up.
Non-invasive/no needles. Other sedation options, like general anesthesia, require the used of needles to administer the medication. This can cause even more anxiety, particularly to those who fear the dentist and needles.
You’ll forget the procedure | Oral sedatives like Valium are strong enough that patients actually forget the procedure and can’t remember anything that happened while they were under sedation.
Slight control | Many patients fear being out of control However, this extremely safe, FDA approved sedative method allows you to maintain some control by being slightly awake and able to respond to your dentist’s instructions.
Disadvantages of Oral Sedation
Takes some time to become effective. Unlike IV general anesthesia or laughing gas (administered through a face mask), it takes about a hour for oral sedation to kick in and be effective.
Little control over sedation level. While we can alter your sedation level using gas or IV medications by increasing the amount of sedation being delivered or backing it off, because oral sedation takes time to take effect, we cannot control your level of sedation within a reasonable amount of time for it to make a difference.
You’ll need a chauffeur. Oral sedation requires you to have someone bring you to your appointment and take you home, because it’s extremely unsafe to drive while under the influence of these medications.
Don’t let a fear of the dentist keep you from enjoying good oral health. Dr. Quartano is dedicated to his patients’ comfort and can help explore the best sedation dentistry method for your needs and comfort level. Contact us to schedule an appointment today or learn more.