Dental fear and anxiety prevent millions of people from getting dental treatment each year. For many patients, a local anesthetic isn’t enough, because while it anesthetizes the area of the mouth being worked on, it doesn’t help to reduce the apprehension patients have for the process.
At our dental clinic in Surrey BC, oral sedation is a method we use to consciously sedate patients. This lowers your level of fear and anxiety enough for the dentist to be able to perform a procedure. The effects are similar to those of inhalation sedation, or nitrous oxide, which many patients are familiar with.
How Oral Sedation Works
Dentists use a number of drugs for oral sedation, which usually come in the form of tablets such as diazepam, triazolam, zaleplon, lorazepam, and hydroxyzine. The patient might begin taking incremental doses of the sedative from the day before dental treatment. Alternatively, the practitioner at our dental clinic in Surrey BC might prescribe a single dose of the sedative to be taken an hour before the patient arrives for treatment. What is oral sedation like? Mainly, it helps you to relax during your dental procedure, and although you will remain awake and be able to respond to questions, you might feel sleepy and you won’t feel any pain.
Who Can Have Oral Sedation?
Patients with a real fear or anxiety that stops them from going to the dentist are ideal candidates for this type of procedure. It’s also appropriate for people who have:
- a reduced pain threshold
- an inability to sit still in the dentist's chair
- sensitive teeth
- a bad “gag” reflex
- a large amount of dental work that needs completing.
It’s also useful for anyone with a fear of injection needles, which are used to administer the local anesthetic to areas of the mouth.
Dental Sedation for Children
Dentists typically use nitrous oxide (laughing gas) as dental sedation for children. If a child is terrified or refuses to cooperate during the visit, they may require sedation to get the work done. Nitrous oxide is usually safe in children, and almost any dentist can administer it, but a smaller proportion of dentists are trained to give children oral sedation. Most dentists are qualified to perform minimal sedation, such as sedation with pills, but require training to provide stronger or moderate sedation. This type of sedation is typically safe when kept within the recommended dose for the child's age and weight.
The Cost of Oral Sedation
The cost of dental sedation in Canada is measured in units of time and will depend on how long the procedure is. For a typical procedure at our dental clinic in Surrey BC, the cost of sedation is around $275. The time required depends on the amount of dental work you need, your size and body weight and the quantity of sedative you’ll require to make you sufficiently relaxed. This differs between patients, so you’ll need to get an estimate from your dentist before deciding whether to go for oral sedation or not. Some healthcare insurance companies cover this option under your dental benefits, while others don’t, so be sure to check with your insurer before proceeding.
Oral Sedation Side Effects
Most forms of medication contain side effects, and oral sedation is no exception. The side effects tend to be minimal, however, and don’t last very long. It’s extremely rare for a patient in our dental clinic in Surrey BC to experience any major side effects, or ones that last more than an hour or two. The most common effects are:
- Drowsiness, until the effects of the medication wear off. Patients should not drive within 24 hours after receiving oral sedation.
- Dry mouth, for a short period following treatment. This is usually dispelled with a drink of water or a mouth rinse.
- Headache, which can be a side effect of the medication. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used safely to get rid of this.
- Mental fog, which includes very little memory of the treatment. This is a positive side effect as it reduces the risk of any trauma associated with the procedure.
The multiple benefits of oral sedation far outweigh the risks or side effects, and enable dentists to complete essential treatments in fewer appointments, as well as performing complex procedures in less time and with less difficulty.
For more information about oral sedation dentistry, please contact our dental clinic in Surrey BC to schedule a consultation for your dental needs.