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In order to most effectively perform a dental procedure and reduce a patient’s anxiety, dentists often utilize sedation treatments. In simpler terms, oral sedation dentistry is the medical practice of administering sedative drugs through the patient’s mouth. Some dentists may also practice conscious intravenous sedation (inserting an IV) or inhalation sedation along with this method.

The Reason for Dental Sedation

Before a procedure, some dental patients may have to be sedated for various reasons. For example, generalized anxiety, prior trauma caused by dental treatment, a fear of needles and sharp objects, and an overall fear of the dentist can be cause for sedation. This practice ensures the safety and effectiveness of the dental procedure for both the patient and the dentist. More specifically, this allows the dentist to complete the treatment in less time and appointments.

What types of drugs does the dentist administer?

There are a variety of options dentists use to sedate their patients depending on their medical needs. Below, we have provided a general list of drugs used for dental sedation:

  • Valium (Diazepam): most common; more effective for extensive dental procedures
  • Halcion (Triazolam): popular in treating insomnia; highly useful in oral sedation
  • Sonata (Zaleplon): similar to Halcion; common in the treatment of insomnia
  • Ativan (Lorazepam): anxiety medication; useful for dental procedures exceeding two hours
  • Vistaril (Hydroxyzine): antihistamine with anti-anxiety effects (anxiolytic); no amnesic properties
  • Versed (Midazolam): only lasts about an hour; best used for simple procedures; less common

Weighing the Risks

Dentists must take all factors into account when pairing the appropriate medication to the patient. For example, considering where a drug metabolizes in the body and having an in-depth understanding of a patient’s underlying medical issues relies on a well-rounded basis of knowledge. Therefore, all risk factors, patients’ medical history, and the procedure’s complexities must be considered before determining the most appropriate drug choice.

Are these drugs regulated?

While the American Dental Association (ADA) has set general sedation guidelines, the sedation laws, education of these drugs, and sedation administering training requirements vary by state. Typically, most states have dosing limitations as not to exceed the MRD (maximum recommended dose) involving anxiolysis. Even more, some states may even require a permit to administer some drugs.

The Upsides

In the end, dental sedation has many advantages for both the patient and the dentist. Doing so ensures the safety of everyone involved, as well as the most optimized effectiveness of the procedure performed.

For more information about dental sedation, give Douglas Family Dentistry a call today!

Located at 10630 North Scottsdale Road, Douglas Family Dentistry serves families in Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Phoenix, Paradise Valley, Glendale, and surrounding Arizona communities.  To schedule an appointment to discuss the dental procedures and services we offer, call our office today at 480-948-3680.