Drug Interactions, Sedation Dentistry, Precautionary Measures, And You: What To Do

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If you are considering sedation dentistry because you are terrified of the dentist chair, there are a few things you should know and do first. There may be some drug interactions between the sedation medication your dentist uses and the medications you are already taking. It is very important that your medical history is effectively and properly updated before your dentist ever treats you. Here is what else you need to do:

Oral Sedation

Oral sedation methods all include pills that you take about an hour before your procedure. If they do not put you to sleep, they will certainly turn you into a very calm and very relaxed person. Almost all of these pills are benzodiazepines, medications that are generally used to sedate people after a very traumatic experience (e.g., valium or lorazepam). 

If you currently take any of these prescription medications, the dentist needs to know. Many of the oral sedatives will double the effects of the same drugs you are taking for sleep and relaxation. Additionally, you have to stay away from depressants, which could cause you to stop breathing when taken in conjunction with the pills to orally sedate you. If at all possible, avoid taking any of your medications that are meant to calm, soothe, or help you sleep, and avoid alcohol for several hours before your procedure.

IV Sedation

IV sedation completely and utterly knocks you out. It can cause minor drops in blood pressure, which is why you are connected to a heart rate monitor the entire time. Because a breathing tube cannot be inserted to keep you breathing during the procedure, your head and neck are tilted into a position that allows the dentist to maintain your airway while working on your teeth. The dental assistant monitors your breathing and heart rate throughout.

Drugs that can cause a negative drug interaction with IV sedation include some street drugs, as well as some heart, pulmonary, and circulation medications. Your dentist will show you the list of drugs that will have a bad interaction with the IV sedation drug. If you take or use any of those medications for any reason, you will be encouraged to either avoid using or take medications several hours before your procedure or wait until after the sedation has worn off.

Many medications for heart and pulmonary conditions have a "window of opportunity" that will allow you to have a medical or dental procedure performed. Then you still have time to take your medications afterward. All medications with counter-indications should be avoided, if possible.