Do you experience high levels of anxiety when visiting the dentist? You’re not alone. What you may be, though, is a candidate for Sedation Dentistry, commonly referred to as “Sleep Dentistry.”
Advantages to patients include:
- Treatment is completed when you are in a more relaxed mood.
- You will have less difficulty sitting through a lengthy procedure.
- Multiple treatments and full mouth restorations can occur at during the same visit.
- Less discomfort after treatment.
The most commonly prescribed drugs that treat dental-related anxiety belong to the “benzodiazepine” family. This includes drugs such as Valium, Halcion, Xanax, or Ativan. These drugs decrease anxiety by binding and toning down activity within “fear” receptors in your brain.
There are two different types of Benzodiazepines:
- Sedative-Hypnotics: These drugs induce calm, including drowsiness and even sleep. This sleep state is actually a form of hypnosis which is a form of physiological sleep.
- Anti-Anxiety Drugs: These are drugs which relieve anxiety and induce a state of calm and relaxation.
While benzodiazepines act as sedatives AND anti-anxiety drugs, some are highly targeted at areas within the brain which focus on sleep. Others act in a more specific way and target fear centers in the brain. In most cases, higher doses act as sedatives and induce sleep, while in lower doses, they reduce anxiety without sedation. Benzodiazepines are also Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants (i.e. there can be a decline in blood pressure and breathing). It is important to note that they shouldn’t be mixed with other CNS depressants, such as alcohol. Likewise, it’s important that you utilize the dose Dr. Funderburk recommends. It is possible to overdose, and overdoses could lower your breathing to dangerously low levels, which could result in coma or death. Please note that you shouldn’t travel on your own after you’ve taken any of these drugs. Make sure you have an escort, even if you traveled by bus or foot! It’s easy to become disorientated.
When not to take benzodiazepines:
Some of these drugs can affect your liver and your heart. It’s important to check with your practitioner and/or pharmacist about this if you have any questions, or any reason to believe your heart or lungs may be compromised, or at particular risk.
Make sure you inform Dr. Funderburk if any of the following apply to you:
- Known allergy to these drugs (or any drug)
- Narrow-angle glaucoma
- Severe respiratory disease (COPD)
- Congestive heart failure (CHF)
- Impaired kidney or liver function
- Depression/bipolar disorder/psychoses
- Chronic bronchitis
- Any medical conditions
It’s also important to let us know if you are taking any other medications or supplements, even over-the-counter ones. There could be possible drug interactions.