Question: What is oral sedation and how does it help with dentistry?
Answer: Oral Sedation involves the use of oral medications in the form of a pill/tablet to relieve mild to moderate anxiety. The most commonly prescribed medications are Halcion, Ativan and Valium, all of which produce a high level of drowsiness but not a complete sleep. The medicine is generally administered one hour prior to treatment but sometimes is also administered the night before the dental appointment as well. You will, however, remain awake and alert throughout your dental treatment and be able to breathe on your own without the fear and anxiety you might other- wise experience. One downfall to oral sedation is that since every patient exhibits different levels of tolerance to drugs and different digestion times, there is no way to measure how much medication has been directly absorbed into the stomach. It is not effective or safe to try to make the patient more relaxed by giving more pills if the initial dose was not effective to relieve the patient's anxiety. Depending on the patient and the treatment being provided, sometimes laughing gas is used in conjunction with oral sedation to help assist with anxiety and pain control. Oral sedation is typically much more effective than laughing gas alone, but not nearly as effective as IV sedation or general anesthesia.
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