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How are sedatives administered?

In our office, sedatives are given to patients in a variety of ways, including by mouth, under the tongue, or inhaled through the nose. The vast majority of those receiving sedation within a dental office will take the medication orally. No needles in your arms or hands or tubes down your throat.

What will I experience after taking sedatives?

Most people feel more calm and more relaxed after taking sedative medication. In the dental setting mild to moderate sedation almost always applies, with patients remaining somewhat alert and responsive, and able to answer questions. General anesthesia -- where patients are completely asleep -- is only provided in the hospital setting.

The number of patients who are afraid of the dentist ranges as high as 20+ percent. For these individuals and many others, oral sedation can make dental care much easier and less stressful. When patients are comfortable -- but still awake -- the dentist and dental team are able to proceed much more efficiently. Sedation dentists can often perform a greater number of procedures in a single appointment, without sacrificing either patient safety or clinical quality. Many people with hectic schedules find it very beneficial to receive necessary treatments in as little as one dental visit instead of multiple trips to the dentist.

What kind of medication will I receive?

The type of sedative or sedatives the dentist prescribes depends on the procedure being performed, your medical condition and any other drugs you take. In many cases doctors 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 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 side effects to sedative medication?

No prescribed drug, or for that matter, no over-the-counter medication is completely without risk. Some of the more powerful sedatives such as barbiturates pose the possibility of addiction along with a variety of unpleasant side effects. But the profile is very different for benzodiazepines like those used in sedation dentistry. These drugs are not addictive and do not carry many side effects.

In the case of any medication, however, caution is always advised. Patients may react differently. For this reason the dentist will ask a series of questions about overall health and other prescriptions in order to minimize the likelihood of any harm. It's important to answer questions as accurately as possible to ensure a safe outcome.

Besides a careful history and possible consultation with the medical doctor, Dr. Beasley and his team will monitor your vital signs throughout the procedure and ensure that you leave the office with a companion or escort.

In addition to creating a feeling of deep relaxation, sedative medication may produce other effects. Patients may feel the hours passed very quickly or otherwise retain little memory of their time in the dental office. Analgesic properties decrease any sensation of pain or discomfort. In very rare instances sedative medication reacts adversely with another drug the patient takes. That's why it's critical to receive sedation treatment from a dentist like Dr. Beasley who has extensive training in sedation as well as Alabama Dental Board Oral Sedation licensing.

What is the first step?

This is difficult for many anxious people, so we try to make this as easy as possible.

Simply call or email our office. Our team member will answer any questions you have and ask you some simple questions to help ensure you get the care you want and deserve.

When you're ready, you can schedule a time that works for you for your initial visit.

This is when our team will gather information regarding your health and discuss with you your wants and desires. If you're comfortable, we'll take x-rays and Dr. Beasley will perform an initial dental exam. But you will never be judged or embarrassed.

Knowledge about oral sedation treatment is not only powerful—it is empowering. It is important to talk to Dr. Beasley about your fears and concerns during your consultation before any dentistry is ever performed. It is critical that you provide Dr. Beasley with an updated health history including any medications you are on, including vitamins and supplements. Factors like smoking, caffeine, and alcohol consumption can alter the effectiveness of sedation medications, so be sure to tell Dr. Beasley about any habits you may have.

Do I need to prepare for the sedation visit?

In addition to providing Dr. Beasley with a complete health history, you will need to choose a companion to drive you to and from your sedation appointment. You should not eat or drink six hours prior to your sedation appointment and no caffeine for 24-48 hours before the sedation appointment unless otherwise directed by Dr. Beasley. Your health history can affect your before and after care plans, especially for diabetics and smokers, so make sure Dr. Beasley knows about any medical conditions you may have. You may receive a prescription for a sedative to take the night before your first appointment to guarantee a good night's sleep and to make sure you wake up relaxed.

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 administered by Dr. Beasley sublingually (under the tongue). Medications given sublingually are absorbed into the bloodstream quicker, so it is a preferred option in our office. Both methods are safe and effective.

The safety of sedation medications is measured by pharmacists and physicians on a scale called the therapeutic index. The larger the number is on the scale, the safer the drug. The sedation medications commonly used by Dr. Beasley for oral sedation dentistry have the highest numbers possible on the therapeutic index, making them the least likely to cause an adverse reaction.

What happens on the day of treatment?

Your companion will bring you to the office. Additional medications will be provided to create the ultimate in relaxation. Our experienced sedation team will monitor you throughout your entire visit.

Dr. Beasley can perform a variety of sedation protocols customized to your particular physiological and pharmacological needs. The medications are safe and have been used for decades. Several have amnesic properties, meaning that you remember little to nothing of your time in the dental chair.

During your treatment visit most patients experience “twilight sleep” and have little detailed memory of the visit. However you will be able to communicate to us if you are experiencing any pain or if you need to take a restroom break.

At the end of you visit, our team will escort you using a wheelchair to your car. Your companion will drive you home where you will rest and recover for the next few hours.

What will recovery be like?

For longer appointments, the remainder of the day should be taken off. For shorter appointments, only half a day may be necessary. Be sure to stay hydrated and drink lots of fluids. You should not drive a car or operate heavy machinery until the following morning. Most patients feel no discomfort or residual effects from the dental visit and you'll be thrilled with how much easier sedation dentistry is and how you can no longer fear future dental visits!