How Oral Sedation Can Relieve Anxiety

If you avoid the dentist due to anxiety, you are not alone. A huge percentage of the adults who do not get regular dental care report that they do not go to the dentist because they are anxious about the experience, but oral sedation can help with your anxiety. Here’s a closer look at how it works.

What Is Oral Sedation?

Oral sedation refers to the use of anti-anxiety medications to help people get through dental treatments. Some of the most popular options are Valium, Halcion, Xanax, and Ativan. When you decide to use oral sedation, your dentist gives you a prescription for one of these medications. Then, you take the medicine as directed prior to your appointment, and during the appointment, your anxiety levels are severely reduced because of the medication tones down the fear receptors in your brains.


Sometimes, your dentist may recommend benzodiazepines. This group of medications helps with anxiety, but they can also encourage your brain to focus on sleep. These drugs fall into two main categories: sedative-hypnosis and anti-anxiety. With anti-anxiety medications, as explained above, you will feel more calm and relaxed. With sedative-hypnotic medications, you will feel calm as well as drowsy. If you stay awake, you will be in a hypnotic, psychological sleep.

With any of these medications, it’s critical to follow your doctor’s instructions, and keep in mind that due to the sleepy side effects of some of these medications, you may need to arrange a ride to and from your dental appointment.

Oral Sedation Versus General Anesthesia

Some people also turn to general anesthesia while they are getting dental work done. With general anesthesia, you “go under”. In other words, you sleep through the dental work which is why this is referred to as sleep dentistry, and the medication is usually delivered intravenously. In contrast, with oral sedation, you take a pill as described above, and you are awake but very relaxed through the dental procedure.

Benefits of Oral Sedation

With oral sedation, you essentially enjoy the benefits of pain-free dentistry. With all dental work, the local anesthetic prevents you from feeling the work, but when people have a lot of anxiety, they perceive the pain as they hear the drills or other equipment. As a result, their pain and fear receptors are triggered even though they can’t actually feel the work.

Oral sedation helps to calm you down so that you truly don’t feel anything and that you are relaxed about the process. With this approach to dentistry, patients enjoy the following benefits:

  • You feel relaxed through the treatment
  • You will find it easier to sit through dental procedures
  • You can get multiple treatments and full mouth restorations in a single appointment
  • You may feel less discomfort after the procedure
  • You may start to feel more positive about the dentist as your fears melt away
  • You will be able to get work done more promptly
  • Your oral health will benefit from receiving more dental care

To learn more about how oral sedation can help with your dental anxiety, contact us today. At Shallowford Dental, we offer multiple dental procedures to help with your dental health.

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