In this age of anxiety, pain control and sedation have become important aspects of dental care. It is now becoming more common for general dentists to provide in-office sedation for routine dental procedures.

A segment of the population that would otherwise not seek care because of fear or anxiety is now receiving treatment. The use of sedation for dental care has become a topic of intense interest, and many governing bodies are re-writing their regulations to require a special permit to provide this service.

There has been much debate concerning different levels of sedation, and what is appropriate for the dental office. Anxiolysis and conscious sedation are well suited for oral medications, and depending on provincial or state regulations, may be safely and effectively administered in the dental office.

The definition of anxiolysis is simply, “a reduction in anxiety.” More precisely stated, “…a drug-induced state in which patients respond appropriately to verbal commands. Although cognitive function and coordination may be impaired, ventilatory and cardiovascular functions are unaffected.”

In the spectrum of sedation, anxiolysis is the lightest level of sedation. For the purpose of many provincial/state regulatory agencies, anxiolysis involves the use of a single anxiolytic drug (per day, not including nitrous oxide), in a single dose, prescribed before a patient’s appointment, and administered prior to the beginning of the dental appointment.


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