Oral sedation is the most common technique used in sedation dentistry. It’s the easiest way to get relaxed for a dental appointment if you are unable to calm yourself. Basically, you just take a pill a little bit before your appointment. Then by the time of your appointment, you’ll be relaxed and ready for treatment. After your appointment, you won’t need to do anything, you’ll recover naturally.
The oral sedation process begins with a thorough consultation with Dr. Weinstock on your experience with dentistry, whether you will benefit from oral sedation, your goals for oral sedation, and your medical history. We want to make sure that you’re a good candidate for oral sedation.
Once we’ve determined that oral sedation is right for you, we will prescribe medications for your next appointment based on how long your general dentistry or cosmetic dentistry procedure is likely to be and your medical conditions.
If you are a highly anxious patient and have difficulty sleeping the night before your appointment, we will prescribe you medication to take to help you sleep. This is easy, because many of the medications used in sedation dentistry are also used as sleep aids. You can take pills either by swallowing them or putting them under your tongue and letting them dissolve. Medications will work faster if placed under your tongue, but most sedation medications work quickly anyway, so either method is good.
On the day of your appointment, we may have you take your medication at home before you come into the office. That way, you’ll be ready for your appointment as soon as you get to the office–and we’ll be ready to take you. We’ll rush you quickly into the operatory where your procedure will be performed. If you take the medication before coming to our office, you must have someone drive you.
For the first time, or if we have any concerns about your response, we may have you take medication at our office instead.
How Oral Sedation Affects Your Brain
Most oral sedation medications are benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines work by increasing the effectiveness of your brain’s most common inhibitor, gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA makes your brain cells (neurons) fire less frequently. This means that there are fewer signals passing through the brain, and they pass more slowly and less reliably. It also makes it hard for your brain to make memories, so you’re unlikely to remember much about your treatment. What you do remember will be similar to the way you remember dreams: fragments and vague impressions.
Because GABA dominates the brain during sleep, sedation dentistry is sometimes called “sleep dentistry,” but you’re unlikely to actually fall asleep. Instead, you will feel like you do at the edge of sleep, but you’ll still be awake and capable of responding to questions and instructions.
Your body will naturally eliminate the chemicals from your body. How long it takes depends on the specific medication used. To make sure you get home safely, we require that you have someone drive you home.
Side Effects of Oral Sedation
The most common side effects are a loss of coordination and concentration, which is why you’re not allowed to drive. Some people shouldn’t even be allowed to walk after taking sedation! It’s not a bad idea to make sure your driver is someone who can support you if you need it.
In addition, some people experience decreased libido, nausea, loss of appetite, and even nightmares after taking oral sedation. These are generally temporary and will pass.
If you have more questions about how oral sedation works or its safety, please call (407) 834-6446 or contact us online for an appointment with an Orlando sedation dentist at the office of Dr. Michael L. Weinstock.