Frequently Asked Questions in Sedation Dentistry
What is the first step?
When you’re ready, schedule a time that works for you for a welcoming visit. This is when we gather information regarding your health and discuss your wants and desires.
You will never be judged or made to feel embarrassed.
Knowledge about sedation dentistry treatment is not only powerful—it is empowering. It is important to talk to your dentist about your fears and concerns during your consultation before any dentistry is performed. It is critical that you provide Dr. Bowman with an updated health history including any medications you are on, including vitamins and supplements. Factors like smoking and alcohol consumption can alter the effectiveness of sedation medications, so be sure to tell Dr. Bowman about any habits you may have.
What will I experience after taking a sedative?
Most people feel calmer and more relaxed after taking sedative medication. But it’s important to understand that these drugs are used to produce a sedation experience that can range from mild to moderate. In the dental office, you need to be responsive and able to answer questions. General anesthesia — where patients are actually asleep — is only provided in the hospital.
Nitrous oxide sedation and some forms of oral sedation fall within the mildest category of sedation. Patients may feel tingling or a sense of well-being. However, they remain alert. Once inhalation is discontinued the effects end also, often within seconds. With oral sedation, a more profound effect can be achieved but it takes a bit longer to work and to wear off. You’re still responding but you’re not going to remember it. You may also have a little dry mouth and feel sleepy. But you are always in control. Still, you will find this creates the best dental visit you’ve ever known.
About 20% of the population is afraid of the dentist. If you are among them or if you have other reasons to want this kind of care, sedative medication can make care easier to tolerate. When patients are comfortable — but still awake — the dentist and dental team are able to provide more care in less time without sacrificing either patient safety or clinical quality.
During minimal sedation patients can still hear, see and respond to the action taking place around them. Sedated patients are much less likely to experience anxiety.
What kind of medication will I receive?
Today we have options. The type of sedative, or sedatives, Dr. Bowman prescribes depends on the procedure being performed, your medical condition and any other drugs you may take. In many cases we use a class of sedative medication called benzodiazepines. Examples of benzodiazepines include diazepam, lorazepam and triazolam.
Benzodiazepines were first developed in the 1960s, so scientists have had many decades during which to study and refine them. In general, the drugs are extremely safe and pose little risk of adverse reaction with other medications. Benzodiazepines are the most commonly prescribed sedatives used today.
Are there any side effect of sedative medication?
Just like the insert on every medication, cold syrup, or herbal supplement says, there is always something you should be aware of when taking anything into your body. Fortunately, with the sedation medications you won’t find the usual suspects. No addiction and very few unpleasant side effects.
There are a few. Some are welcome like amnesia, some not so much. On rare occasions, people experience nausea with nitrous oxide or hiccups with oral sedation. Dr. Bowman will discuss these unusual occurrences with you.
In addition to creating a feeling of deep relaxation, sedative medication may produce other effects. You may feel the hours pass very quickly or otherwise retain little memory of their time in the dental office. You’ll experience a decrease in the sensation of pain or discomfort.
Do I need to prepare for the sedation visit?
For nitrous oxide only, there is little for you to prepare. However, if you are having oral sedative, you may receive a prescription for a sedative to take the night before your first appointment to guarantee a good night’s sleep and a complete list of pre-treatment instructions.
Oral sedation is a popular treatment option for many people because it does not require the use of additional needles. Medications can be swallowed whole and/or crushed and placed under the tongue. Medications given this way are absorbed into the bloodstream quickly, so it is a preferred option by many dentists.
What happens on the day of treatment?
If you are having oral sedation you’ll need a friend or loved one to bring you to the office.
You’ll be directed not to eat or drink six hours prior to your appointment unless otherwise directed by Dr. Bowman. Your health history can affect your before and aftercare plans, especially for diabetics and smokers, so make sure your dentist knows about any medical conditions you may have. Additional medications will be provided to create the ultimate in relaxation. Your team will monitor you throughout your entire visit.
Sedation appointments will require you to take half a day or a full day off of work. Be sure to stay hydrated and drink lots of fluids after your appointment. You should not drive or operate heavy machinery for 24 hours. The following day you will feel completely rejuvenated without any residual sedative effects.
Most patients feel no discomfort from the dental visit and you’ll be thrilled with all the compliments you will get.
How long is recovery time for my appointment?
There is no set amount of recovery time because every patient is different. However, for nitrous oxide only, your recovery is immediate. For oral sedation, many patients begin to feel more alert immediately after the appointment is over.
You should not drive or operate heavy machinery for at least 24 hours after the end of your appointment. If you experience any nausea after treatment, your dentist can usually provide a prescription to help. You are encouraged to sleep and drink plenty of water and clear fluids for the remainder of the day. In regards to recovery from the actual dental work itself, Dr. Bowman will give you individualized instructions for aftercare.