The oral sedation procedure is much different from the process followed for nitrous oxide or iv sedation, because the sedation process has actually started before the time that you arrive to the dental office for your treatment. You will have already taken the sedative pill, and you may have had another one the night before treatment.
Because of the time it takes for the oral sedatives to take effect after they are administered, you must take them before your dental appointment so you will be sedated when you arrive at the dental office.
If you can not find a companion, it is better to cancel your appointment. Your other option is not to take the drug from home, but get to the dental office early enough and take the drug while you are already there. The disadvantage is that you will have to stay in the waiting room until the time of your oral sedation treatment appointment.
By the time you and your companion arrive at the dental office, you will already feel relaxed and possibly a little drowsy. Depending on the selected protocol, the dentist may sometimes administer an additional dose of sedative (usually only for multi-hour treatments). You will be taken to the dental chair and get connected to the monitoring equipment.
The oral sedation drugs do not have an analgesic effect, therefore you will still need local anesthetic so that you do not feel pain. The good news is that the dentist will wait until you are adequately sedated before making the necessary injections of the anesthetic, so that you will not feel any discomfort. After some minutes the dentist can begin treatment.
To avoid any possibility of potential complications and ensure patient safety, the dentist or a staff member continuously monitors the patient’s vital signs throughout the oral sedation procedure.
Under certain conditions, oral sedation may cause side effects such as depression of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Pulse oximeters and blood pressure monitors are devices used by sedation dentists to constantly and record monitor pulse, oxygen saturation of the blood, and blood pressure, in order to provide an early warning in case of hypoxemia or hypotension. Sedation of patients who are at increased risk for developing cardiac dysrhythmias requires additional continuous electrocardiographic monitoring.
The rhythm and depth of respirations should also be monitored to make sure that the patient maintains proper breathing. If hypoventilation is not detected immediately, it may lead to cerebral hypoxia, cardiac arrest and death.
The dentist will also detect the level of the sedation every few minutes by talking to the patient who must be able to respond to their dentists’ verbal questions or commands.
When the oral sedation procedure ends, you will normally still feel relaxed and a little sleepy. You may experience some unsteadiness and lack of coordination for the next few minutes. Most patients feel like they have been slept through the entire oral sedation procedure due to the amnesic effects of the sedative drugs. You will probably have little or no memory of what happened while you were treated.
The dentist will continue to monitor you until there is no risk of adverse effects to the cardiovascular and respiratory functions. Sedated patients are discharged by the dentist only when the risk of complications is minimized.
A companion will have to drive or escort you home and must stay with you for several hours until you have fully recovered, and especially after lengthy dental sedation procedures. It is better to take some rest for the remaining day and avoid physical activities.
Do not drive or operate machinery, and avoid potentially hazardous activities such as climbing a ladder for 24 hours following Oral Conscious Sedation procedures. You should also stay away of taking important decisions until the sedation effects have fully worn out.