What Is Oral Sedation?

Oral sedation, also known as pill sedation, is a method of conscious sedation used in dentistry. Oral sedative drugs are prescribed and taken prior to an appointment to make dental visits more comfortable for patients.

Why Is Oral Sedation Used?

The primary reason oral sedation is utilized is to reduce patient anxiety and make dental visits more manageable. Oral medication can assist individuals who struggle with:

  • General dental anxiety
  • Belonephobia (fear of needles)
  • Previous dental trauma
  • Moderate to severe gagging

It’s also a safe, effective tool to assist patients who have a resistance to local anesthetics or those in need of complex restorative treatment.

Oral sedatives dull the senses and can help reduce memory, sights and smells associated with the dental clinic. This allows patients to avoid recalling past trauma, making the experience more comfortable.

Finally, the sedative effect can enable treatment to be completed in less time, resulting in shorter visits and fewer appointments.

What Types of Oral Sedatives Are Available?

There are several commonly prescribed sedatives available to patients. A few examples are:  

  • Valium is typically used for time-consuming, complex procedures.
  • Halcion is often used to treat insomnia. It’s also effective for short dental treatments.
  • Ativan is best known for reducing anxiety and is usually used for treatments less than two hours.

Your dentist will ask about your dental and medical history to determine which option is best for you. It’s also crucial to discuss oral sedatives with your pharmacist so you’re aware of the side effects and understand how often to administer prescription medication.  

Learn more general information about prescription sedatives.

What Are The Advantages and Disadvantages of Oral Sedation?

The primary advantages of oral sedation are:

  • Easy to administer — all you have to do is swallow a prescribed pill before your appointment
  • Anxiety is alleviated — you’ll feel relaxed by the time your appointment starts, making the experience more manageable
  • Safe — it’s unlikely that you’ll experience dangerous side effects from prescribed oral sedatives
  • Amnesia — a strong dosage of certain medications causes patients to have little or no memory of the treatment
  • Responsive — you’ll be awake during treatment, allowing you to respond to your dentist’s instructions
  • No needles — don’t have to worry about being pricked by a needle when arriving at the dentist
  • Less time — procedures often take less time to complete due to your relaxed state 

Some of the disadvantages of oral sedation include:

  • Not instantly effective — it takes time to feel the effects of oral sedatives, which is why you’re required to take them before your appointment
  • Sedation level cannot be changed easily — it takes time to increase and decrease your sedation level
  • Require assistance — you’re unable to drive to and from appointments because oral sedatives relax your mind and body
  • Impaired judgement — oral medication may reduce your ability to make quick, logical decisions, as well as decrease your physical coordination

Sedation at Bearspaw Dental

At Bearspaw Dental, we may prescribe oral sedatives to patients in an effort to reduce anxiety, create a more relaxed atmosphere and enable a more pleasant experience. Ensure you discuss side effects and consumption frequency with your pharmacist, as they will differ depending on the drug prescribed.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding oral sedation, contact us for more information.