Sedation Dentistry

Important Facts to Know  |   Medication Used   |   Equipment

There is more and more news about "sedation dentistry" and all its benefits. But what does all of this actually mean?
This type of sedation has existed for decades. The new resurgence in the media (you've all heard the ads) is a marketing gem by a dentist in the northeast. He began a new dental organization and teaches courses on how to safely administer the medications, market and churn out as many cases as possible. This is a service that has been available thru this office for the past 20+ years.

Very simply put... you take a pill or two... you get VERY relaxed...and your dentistry can be performed in more psychological comfort than being fully "awake".

Our office offers "sedation dentistry" and we would be pleased to discuss your options with you. 

There are some facts that are important to realize.

There are 2 primary kinds of 'sedation'. They are:

  1. UNCONSCIOUS sedation - like in the hospital. This is most commonly referred to as 'general anesthesia'. The reason this is referred to as 'unconscious sedation'....that is....among other things....your muscles stop working and that is why the anesthesiologist has to oversee the fact that the machines in the operating room keep breathing for you.
    - A major advantage to this type of anesthesia is that you are COMPLETELY "out".
    - Major disadvantages are the expense, equipment and demand put on the body.
  2. CONSCIOUS sedation - ....that is.....all body functions remain intact or normal.
    - This type of sedation is a very very deep relaxation. You can still speak and respond to requests.
    - This type of sedation medication has a very profound amnesic will remember virtually none of the drive to the office, procedures, nor the trip back home.
    - There are 2 most common forms of this 'conscious sedation'...
    •  I.V. (intravenous) sedation administered usually in an office/out patient surgery center. This uses medications administered directly into the persons blood stream. The HUGE advantage here is that if someone is not as "deep" as the doctor would like them to be (for their comfort) he/she may easily use more medication and its effects are instantaneous.
    • Orally administered sedation. This comes in the form of a pill or liquid and the patient swallows the medication. The disadvantages with this method are that the level of anesthesia for each person is not as predictable as a general anesthesia nor an I.V. sedation.   Why not?  Because this is administered by mouth in the form of a pill. Body weight, genetics, previous drug history, etc all combine to increase or decrease the amount of actual sedation a person experiences. Since it is swallowed, there is a time delay to increase the dosage (unlike placing medications directly into the blood stream). 

The type of sedation that is being referred to as "sedation dentistry" is the last one described above listed as "orally administered sedation". So why do dentists use this if there are some disadvantages?

Because the advantages are there as well...
... the patient does not have the fees associated with an I.V. sedation.
... it is much easier to administer by mouth than by I.V. 
... and the fact is that almost all people respond very favorably to orally administered sedation.

What is the medication used orally ?

 The most common drug prescribed is Halcion (also known as triazolam) this is very closely related to Valium chemically. The differences are that with Halcion there is a much deeper relaxation and amnesic effect than there is with Valium. 




One very important aspect of sedation dentistry is the use of an oxipulsimeter. This piece of equipment allows the continuous monitoring of blood oxygen saturation, pulse and blood pressure.



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Dr. Maury Hafernik
11645 Angus Road, Suite 10
Austin, Texas 78759
P: (512) 345-5552

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