Oral sedation may help dental patients relax and feel more at ease during procedures. Anxiolysis, light sedation, is achieved with a mild sedative in small doses, leading to an anxiety-free, comfortable state of consciousness. Higher doses are used to help people reach moderate sedation, a state in which an individual’s level of consciousness is slightly depressed but they are still awake and aware, in control of their reflexes and are able to follow instructions.
Sedation of this nature is recommended for patients who experience anxiety when visiting the dentist for procedures. The patient is still able to breathe on his or her own and is awake for the entire visit, making the experience stress-free and tolerable. Oftentimes, patients will have a hazy memory of the visit, feeling as though they slept through the appointment; This is completely normal and is a result of the amnesic effect of the sedation medication, making subsequent visits much easier on patients.
Though the side effects are usually quite limited when properly employed, oral sedation can be difficult to predict, in terms of the length and level of sedation obtained. As such, patients are required to be accompanied home by a companion. For the remainder of the day following a dental appointment with oral sedation, it is not uncommon to feel sleepy and a little bit groggy.
If sedation is required for a visit, the dentist will prescribe a pill to be taken one hour before the procedure, in the office, under dental supervision. Patients will be monitored for the duration of the appointment from the time of taking the medication to release to a family member or friend. It is important not to consume alcohol while the sedative is still in one’s system to avoid any negative interactions.