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11 New Reasons to Stop Avoiding the Dentist
Comments () | Published May 2, 2011

3. Advances in Oral Sedation
Help reduce anxiety in patients

Oral sedation has lately come into vogue, with many dentists offering this option to patients who have high levels of anxiety.

"You're fully responsive, but in that had-a-couple-of-martinis, feelin'-very-relaxed mode," says Brian Gray, a cosmetic and restorative dentist in DC.

Patients are prescribed anti-anxiety meds such as Valium or Xanax to take before going to the dentist's office (a friend has to drive them). Once there, they're given a stronger sedative such as Halcion, which puts them into a "twilight" yet still conscious state. For some patients, the Halcion in the office can be enough.

Many patients become so relaxed that they feel as if they've slept. When they "wake up" later, they don't remember anything. These patients also receive injected local anesthetics such as lidocaine for pain, but they have no memory of the shot.

Though sedation dentistry is relatively safe, it's important for vital signs such as blood pressure and pulse to be continually monitored with an oximeter during the procedure.

IV sedation, in which a patient is put into a deeper twilight state, has also become more popular, especially for lengthy or invasive procedures such as oral surgery. It's important to have an anesthesiologist on the premises should something go awry.

Next: Play with A Puppy Before Your Treatment

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  • maia dobson

    These reasons are all true. We really need to focus on our dental health too. I recently had a teeth whitening in Orange County because I'm such a coffee addict. I never realized that it was making my teeth yellowish.

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Posted at 05:53 AM/ET, 05/02/2011 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Washingtonian.com Articles