ORAL SEDATION Oral sedation is the most preferred method of relaxing a patient. It takes about an hour to fully take effect, but it can drastically relax you, and in higher doses, relax you nearly to a point of falling asleep. Oral sedatives are safe and you can be awakened with a gentle nudge, but it is advised that you don’t operate a vehicle or heavy machinery after using an oral sedative.

Like nitrous oxide, oral sedation keeps you calm and relaxed, but still awake during a procedure. The level of sedation can range from minimal, where you’re fully conscious and aware of what’s going on, to moderate, where you feel more relaxed, possibly to the point of falling asleep. Even with moderate sedation via oral means, you can easily be awakened with a gentle squeeze or shake of your shoulder.

The most commonly used oral sedative is Halcion, which is similar to Valium. You would take the pill an hour before the procedure begins and will start to feel drowsy as it takes effect. Larger doses increase the sedation to a point where you may actually feel like falling asleep. Oral sedation is the primary method of sedation for its effectiveness at relaxing the patient, but it is highly recommended that you do not operate a vehicle after a dental appointment requiring its use.

In addition to the oral sedative, you may still require a local anesthetic depending on the procedure being performed. The local anesthetic does not make you feel drowsy or fall asleep, but it numbs the area that will be worked on. All sedatives are primarily used to relax the patient, whether to alleviate anxiety about the procedure, or simply to reduce their movement during the procedure. Some people can be fidgety, and remaining still is important for proper dental work, particularly for long procedures.