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A Guide to Oral Sedation

Just like IV Sedation and inhalation sedation, oral sedation works by relaxing the body and forcing it into a calming state. This makes it easier for vital dental treatment to be carried out on people who are nervous about dentists, and for those who have a fear of any form of treatment. Unlike the other two sedation methods though, it offers no pain relief.

Contrary to belief, a patient does not lose consciousness when sedated in this way, but is fully conscious throughout the procedure. However, the patient will be heavily sedated and will feel to be in a dream-like state. Despite this, and the resulting drowsiness, the patient will be able to hear, understand, and respond to any instructions from the dentist. In other words, the best of both worlds is achieved – no anxiety, but an ability to co-operate with the dentist’s requirements.

How does it work?

Taken in the form of a tablet, oral sedation is extremely effective. The small pill contains the medicine Temazepam and this will be swallowed roughly 60 minutes before the treatment is due to be started.

Nor do you have to be a nervous patient to enjoy the benefits of oral sedation. If you have a dental problem that you know will require a lot of time to put right, you may opt for sedation so that you can endure the work for longer sessions and therefore cut down on the number of visits you have to make. There will also be some emergency dental problems for which you may choose to be sedated as this will allow essential work to be carried out without you being stressed and anxious. Some people even opt for sedation for minor tasks such as cleaning of the teeth or repairing a cracked or broken tooth. It really is a possibility for anyone.

On arrival, even though you will have already been told about the procedure and what to expect, the dentist will set about explaining it all again in great detail, just to make sure that you are fully aware of how you will feel; how long the effects will last; and so on.

After this point you will then wait for the effects of the sedative you took prior, to take hold. The sedative drug will then start making you feel relaxed and comfortable and your dentist will commence treatment.

Whilst your dentist is undertaking the necessary work, your heart rate and blood pressure will be monitored closely to make sure everything is as it should be. It is important to know that all common forms of dental sedation are extremely safe and effective, and such measures are purely precautionary.

With regards to recovery, just like other sedation forms, the effects of the drug will eventually start to wear off, and then you will be allowed some time to come round and recuperate from the work that has been carried out. You should not be surprised if you cannot remember much from the procedure as sedatives, while making your body relaxed and calm and sufficiently alert enough to follow instructions, at the same time affect your recall of the work that has been undertaken.

Advantages of oral sedation

Oral sedation has many benefits. One of the biggest attractions is that it does not require needles like intravenous sedation does, which means that many people who have a fear of needles can look into this option. A small pill taken orally is all that is required. Patients who struggle to get that numb feeling will also find comfort from this type of sedation. It can also help if you are required to have extensive dental work done. If that is the case, the necessary repairs could be carried out in one or two visits instead of seven or eight.

Downsides of oral sedation 

As a rule, oral sedation has more disadvantages that inhalation and IV sedation. The biggest drawback is that, unlike the other two options, it does not possess pain relieving capabilities. Whilst oral sedation can offer good results when it comes to being calm and relaxed, it cannot provide any pain relief. Because of this, shots of local anaesthesia will need to be incorporated.

It should also be known that patients with extreme anxiety issues may not hugely benefit from this form of sedation.

Other disadvantages to bear in mind include the fact that oral sedation is not the most accurate form of sedation (the medicine is administered orally so it is impossible to get a consistent level of sedation in every patient); there is difficulty adjusting sedation level; and prior arrangements are required.

With the latter point in mind, you should be aware that plans will have to be made before oral sedation can take place. For instance, you will have to get someone to take you to the dental practice, as you will have to take the sedative one hour before your appointment, so you will not be in a fit state to drive. You should also avoid walking to the clinic or taking the bus, as the effects of the drug can impact on your reactions and state of mind. This being the case, being escorted to the dentist by someone else is the best course of action to take.

Finally, oral sedation, unlike IV sedation and inhalation sedation, can have after effects which can be present for several hours, so you will be advised not to drive or do any strenuous activity until at least 24 hours have passed. IV sedation and inhalation sedation are better in this respect, as these forms of sedation can end as soon as the procedure is done, so you should be back to normal relatively quickly.