Most commonly, oral sedation (usually in the form of anti-anxiety pills also known as “happy pills”) is prescribed for relieving anxiety in the hours immediately before a dental appointment. An anti-anxiety or a sleeping pill taken the night before the appointment, an hour before going to bed, can help with falling asleep and getting some rest. Patients will not be able to drive the day of any appointment. They will need a ride to and from our dental office.
In dentistry, the most commonly prescribed drugs for (or rather against!) anxiety belong to the “benzodiazepine” family. You’ve probably heard of them by their trade names – for example, Valium, Halcion, Xanax, or Ativan.
Diazepam produces a mild level of sleep and amnesia, and takes effect about an hour after taking it. The average dose for an adult is 5 to 10 mg. The disadvantage of diazepam is that it stays in the system for much longer than it is needed (it has a half-life of 20-100 hours).
Lorazepam can produce a higher level of sleepiness and memory loss than diazepam. The usual dose is 2 to 3 mg. It kicks in after about one hour, like diazepam, but its half-life is much shorter (12 to 14 hours).