Oral sedation dentistry is a medical procedure involving the administration of sedative drugs via an oral route, generally to facilitate a dental procedure and reduce patients anxiety related to the experience. Oral sedation is one of the available methods of conscious sedation dentistry, along with inhalation sedation (e.g., nitrous oxide) and conscious intravenous sedation. Benzodiazepines are commonly used, specifically triazolam. Triazolam is commonly selected for its rapid onset and limited duration of effect. An initial dose is usually taken approximately one hour before the dental appointment. Treatment may include additional dosing on the night proceeding the procedure, to mitigate anxiety-related insomnia. The procedure is generally recognized as safe, with the effective dosages being below levels sufficient to impair breathing.
Dental patients with generalized anxiety, belonephobia (fear of needles and sharp instruments), prior dental trauma, or generalized fear of the dentist can take oral medication in order to reduce their anxieties. A variety of single and incremental dose protocols are used to medicate the patient as early as the day before treatment. Medication additionally helps reduce memory or the sights and smells of the dental office to avoid recall of any trauma. The sedative effect allows more dentistry to be completed in fewer appointments as well as allowing complex procedures to be performed in less time.
Drug characteristics must be carefully considered when choosing the appropriate medication. Matching factors, such as where the drug is metabolized and any underlying diseases requires a good medical history and thorough knowledge of the drug's characteristics. All risk factors, individual characteristics, and procedural complexities can be taken into account in order to provide the best drug choice.
Courses in Oral Sedation Dentistry are offered across North America at various dental schools and private organizations. The largest for-profit provider of dental sedation continuing education in North America is the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation. Specialty courses are being taught in pediatric sedation, ACLS, IV Sedation and emergency preparedness. The largest not-for-profit organization that provides educational courses in oral sedation as well as IV sedation and general anesthesia is the American Dental Society of Anesthesiology.
Education and training requirements to administer sedation vary by state. The ADA has set forth general sedation guidelines that have been adopted or modified by many states. There are typically dosing limitations involved with anxiolysis, usually a single dose the day of treatment not to exceed the maximum recommended dose (MRD) of the medication in order to achieve the intended level of sedation. However, these sedation laws vary from state to state. Anxiolysis protocols are designed to treat healthy ASA I & II patients ages 18 and up for one to four hours of treatment. Some states now require a permit even for nitrous oxide administration and/or anxiolysis.
The main advantages of oral sedation versus other sedation methods are: