Do you experience high levels of anxiety when visiting the dentist? You may be a candidate for Sedation Dentistry. Dr. Chowning is Board Certified to administer (oral conscious) sedation, commonly referred to as “Sleep Dentistry.”
Advantages to patients include:
- Treatment is completed when you are in a more relaxed mood.
- You will have less difficulty sitting through a lengthy procedure.
- Multiple treatments and full mouth restorations can occur during the same visit.
- Less discomfort after treatment.
The most commonly prescribed dental related drugs that treat anxiety belong to the “benzodiazepine” family. Drugs such as Valium, Halcion, Xanax, or Ativan. These drugs decrease anxiety by binding and toning down activity within “fear” receptors in the brain.
There are two different types of Benzodiazepines:
- Sedative-Hypnotics: These drugs induce calm, including drowsiness and even sleep. This sleep state is actually a form of hypnosis which is a form of physiological sleep.
- Anti-Anxiety Drugs: These are drugs that relieve anxiety and induce a state of calm and relaxation.
While benzodiazepines act as sedatives AND anti-anxiety drugs, some are highly targeted at areas within the brain that focus on sleep. Others act in a more specific way and target fear centers in the brain. In most cases, higher doses act as sedatives and induce sleep, while in lower doses, they reduce anxiety without sedation.
Benzodiazepines are also Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants (i.e. there can be a decline in blood pressure and breathing). It is important to note that they shouldn’t be mixed with other CNS depressants such as alcohol. It’s important that you utilize the dose your dentist or doctor recommends. It is possible to overdose, and overdoses could lower your breathing to dangerously low levels, which could result in coma or death.
Please note that you shouldn’t travel on your own after you’ve taken any of these drugs. Make sure you have an escort, even if you traveled by bus or foot! It’s easy to become disorientated.
When not to take benzodiazepines:
Some of these drugs can affect your liver and heart. It’s important to check with your practitioner and/or pharmacist. You should be sure to inform your doctor or dentist if any of the following apply: known allergy to the drug, narrow-angle glaucoma, pregnancy, severe respiratory disease (COPD), congestive heart failure (CHF), impaired kidney or liver function, depression/bipolar disorder/psychoses, chronic bronchitis and some other conditions. It’s also important to let us know if you are taking other medications. There could be possible drug interactions.
How Does Oral Conscious Sedation Work?
The oral conscious sedation process is pretty straightforward. We’ll first need you to come in for a consultation so we can review your medical history and determine if you’re a candidate for oral conscious sedation. We will need to know about any medical conditions you have and medications you take as well as if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
Oral conscious sedation is given in the form of an anti-anxiety pill that is taken an hour before your appointment. You will need to arrange for a ride to and from your appointment because you will not be able to drive once you take the sedative. It can take about an hour to kick in so you should be feeling the effects by the time you arrive for your appointment.
You will feel very relaxed and if you have any anxiety or stress, this will melt away once the sedative fully kicks in. This is a conscious form of sedation so you will be fully awake and aware of your surroundings during your treatment.
However, many patients report feeling sleepy and the amnesiac effect of the sedative means you likely won’t remember anything afterward. This is often preferable for those with severe dental phobias and helps to relieve future anxiety in anticipation of appointments. The treatment is performed while you are sedated and while you will be aware of what is going on in the moment, you will not remember much after the appointment.
Will I Be Groggy After Using Oral Sedation?
You will likely still feel like you are in a haze for about 6 hours following the initial time you took the sedative. However, oral conscious sedation is a moderate sedative so it causes hangover effects that can linger for up to 24 hours.
This is why you need to have someone else drive you home and monitor you for the rest of the day. You should go home and rest and make sure someone is around you to help you get up flights of stairs and make you some food because you should avoid cooking.
For the next 24 hours, avoid alcohol, driving, operating any heavy machinery, and signing legal documents. You may continue to feel tired and groggy until the next day.
Is Oral Conscious Sedation Safe?
Yes, oral conscious sedation is completely safe when administered by a certified professional dentist. The medication that is administered is FDA approved and we review your medical history before approving you for this sedative to ensure that you don’t take any medications that could interfere with the sedative.
Any time you undergo any sedation, you are incurring some level of risk. However, any complications resulting from sedation are extremely rare and usually only occur in those with severe health problems. We would be happy to discuss how suitable you are for dental sedation during a consultation and go over any of your questions or concerns.