Advantages and Disadvantages of Oral Sedation

What is oral sedation?

Did your dentist recommend oral sedation for your upcoming dental procedure? If so, you’re probably wondering what oral sedation entails. Oral sedation, also referred to as conscious sedation, is a common form of medication to help patients feel calmer during dental procedures. Oral sedation may be recommended for individuals undergoing lengthy procedures who may experience dental anxiety, gag reflexes, trouble controlling physical movements, or other special needs. It is administered in a pill form by your dental professional prior to your procedure. Some of the common medications used include triazolam (Halcion®), zaleplon, and lorazepam. In some instances, such as for children, liquid sedation may be used such as midazolam oral syrup. These medications act to temporarily slow down brain activity, making you feel more relaxed. This form of sedation is moderate, and you are still awake, although it can give you temporary forgetfulness.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Oral Sedation

What will you feel when orally sedated?

Oral sedation will make you feel drowsy, but undisturbed. You will be awake and still able to communicate, but if you are to doze off you will be able to easily awaken. Most often, patients who have had oral sedation do not remember much of the procedure.

Advantages of oral sedation

Luckily, there are many advantages of oral sedation for both the patient and dental professional. In some cases, the fear of the dentist may be keeping individuals from properly taking care of their teeth. With the help of oral sedation, people can feel relaxed and at ease during their procedure. Oral sedation is safe and easy to administer for both adults and children, with no needles being involved! Another advantage is the amnesia effect, in which the patient will have little to no memory of the procedure even though they are consciously awake and able to respond to commands.

Disadvantages of oral sedation

With advantages always comes some disadvantages, too. Prior to administering oral sedation, your dentist will conduct a thorough medical history to lower the risk of complications occurring. Although there are minimal risks of side effects occuring, possible complications following oral sedation can include a potential allergic reaction, dry mouth, nausea, headaches, and prolonged drowsiness.

Further, oral sedation may take some time before it kicks in as it goes through your body, as with most medications. Your dentist will provide you with detailed instructions including how long before the procedure to take the medication. In addition, unlike other forms of sedation like IV sedation, it is challenging to adjust the dosage, and everyone’s body may respond differently. Another disadvantage of oral sedation is the inability to drive to and from your appointment. Due to the slight impairment of brain activity from oral sedation, you will be required to bring someone with you to your appointment who can drive you there and back.