People are nervous about dental visits. It is a fact that many tend to neglect toothache symptoms just to avoid the dentist. Gums and teeth are very personal and pretty sensitive to certain dental procedures and some fear is understood. But when this manifests into a phobia it can worsen one’s dental health further due to lack of treatment at the right time.

It is estimated that a significant percentage of the population have dental phobia and women dominate this group. Dentists can administer oral sedation which are prescribed to the patients to retain their calm and to reduce any anxiety for future dental appointments. These drugs are commonly known as happy pills and are to be consumed certain hours/a day before the painful and stressful session.

Oral Sedation - How it works ?

The drugs that are usually prescribed for oral sedation for dental procedures belong to the family of benzodiazepines (chemically comprising benzene and a diazepine ring structure) which are psychoactive drugs. The benzodiazepines act on the Central Nervous System; help in enhancing the effect of gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA); a neurotransmitter relieving one’s anxiety and inducing a hypnotic effect. In common man’s language they tone and calm your brain.

All this comes under the Oral sedation dentistry which is handled by trained dentists. It is also commonly known as ‘’ Sleep dentistry’’ although not to be taken in the literal sense.

oral sedation dentistrySedation is not to be confused with a general anesthetic .During sedation, the patient is not unconscious; rather he/she is just less anxious and less responsive to pain or any external stimulus like the sound of mechanical drills etc. It is easily administered, highly effective, non-invasive and greatly accepted by the patients.

The dosage has to be optimized and limited. For instance benzodiazepines at a milder dose may act as a mild anti-anxiety drug but at higher dose acts as a hypnotic drug. Please keep your near and dear one’s informed about consuming the drug since you could get a bit silly with your talks and actions.

Your speech may appear slurred and you might experience a dry mouth feel. Nothing to get worried about; these symptoms are going to wear off after a while. Driving a vehicle after consuming the drug is a strict no-no. Get your spouse or friend to accompany you and relax.

Trade names of certain Benzodiazepines are Valium, Restoril, Ativan, Versed etc.They differ in the time required for their action and the wear-off time and hence the dosage levels vary.Valium is commonly used but the flip side to it is that the effect of the drug stays longer, which is not actually required.

Versed has an effect lasting for only an hour or so and is hence preferred for simpler appointments having a short duration. It is usually administered at the dental clinic in the form of syrup and its action starts within fifteen to twenty minutes. These drugs help relieve anxity of many patients at our clinic and many call the medicine wonder drugs.

Regardless of whatever drug is orally prescribed for sedation, a local anesthetic is always required to reduce pain and to cause numbness. Oral sedation is to calm the mind and local anesthetic is to numb and mask the pain. Together, most patients are comfortable and pain-free.


One must let their dentist know about their general health and medical history because certain drugs are not to be taken for patients with a heart, liver or respiratory disease. If you are on any medications, please let your dentist know about it because multiple drug interactions can occur which can be dangerous. There are certain debates on whether the drug is safe during pregnancy. Any known allergy to any drug also needs to be mentioned to your dentist.

The dosage of the drug is administered by the dentist taking into account one’s physical structure, psychology, prevailing health conditions etc. The dentist has to carefully decide on the dosage and it is very important to accurately answer all the questions asked by the dentist. By doing all these, calculating the lowest effective dose for a particular individual is what the dentist is aiming at.

The placebo effect has its role here too because one’s complete belief in the treatment or the drug actually helps. On the contrary if one is negative about it, it can signal your brain and the brain fights against the drug! So the whole idea lies in staying positive which works wonders for your mind and body.

Not all dentists are qualified to handle sedation procedures. Don’t hesitate to share your concerns and worries about this procedure because it is your right. At Beverly Heights Dental, Dr Vidya is qualified to administer oral sedation. Empower yourself with the basics of sedation dentistry to help yourself feel confident.

No More Phobia...

The oral sedation dentistry has also helped people in reducing the number of visits to the dentists to about a half than would be normally required. The reason would be probably that more procedures can be done on your teeth since you are calm enough which would otherwise be postponed to future appointments! So it benefits people with busy schedules to quickly get their dental care. Any dentistry procedures ranging from teeth whitening to crown replacement and root canal treatments to surgical extraction procedures are accomplished with the help of sedation dentistry combined with anesthetic.

At Beverly Heights Dental, patients often tell us after a procedure that they were much more comfortable and pain-free than they had anticipated.

Dr Vidya

We also perform nitrous oxide sedation and it is a good anxiety reliever and pretty effective in alleviating dental phobia.