What is Oral Sedation Dentistry?

Pill Sedation Grand Rapids Dentist

Is dental phobia preventing you from scheduling an appointment with your Grand Rapids dentist? There may be hope. We recognize that each of our patients’ cases are unique and may require different services to ensure they receive quality dental care. One of the services we offer is pill sedation for patients with dental anxiety or certain medical conditions. It is always our goal to help patients maintain beautiful healthy smiles.

Do I qualify for oral sedation?

Pill sedation, also called oral sedation, is ideal for patients who experience anxiety from a trip to their dentist’s office. Pill sedation is also great for people suffering from medical issues that may hinder their ability to undergo basic procedures or sit in the dentist’s chair for prolonged periods of time.

Sedation dentistry helps patients who experience:

  • Fear of the dentist
  • Involuntary body movement
  • Back or neck pain
  • Sore jaw muscles
  • High gag reflex
  • Low pain threshold

If any of these medical issues interfere with receiving dental care, you may want to consider asking your dentist about oral sedation dentistry. Pill sedation can make it less stressful for you during your bi-annual dentist appointments. Reducing dental anxiety also facilitates your relationship with us, so you can feel more comfortable coming to us if a major dental problem crops up.

How does oral sedation work?

Before prescribing a sedative pill, your dentist will have a conversation with you to determine if it is a good fit for your unique situation. There are a variety of oral sedatives that can be prescribed; however, the most common pill is Halcion, which shares a drug family with Valium.

You will be instructed to take your pill an hour before your appointment. Once you have taken the pill, you will begin to feel drowsy, but not tired enough to fall asleep. The sedative will be enough to eliminate physical or emotional discomfort, but won’t be enough to render you unconscious. If you do happen to fall asleep, you won’t be deeply unconscious and can be woken with ease. It’s important to understand that oral sedation (also called conscious sedation) isn’t the same as sleep dentistry.

What are the side effects of oral sedation?

With any medication, there will be side effects. Some of the more common side effects of pill sedation include lapses in memory, loss of coordination, and dizziness. All of these symptoms should clear once the drug is out of your system. With our trained sedation dentist and his staff, the likelihood of any serious side effects decreases to make your procedure safer.

What is the recovery period after oral sedation?

It takes about 24 hours for the pill sedative to completely work its way out of your system, but this estimate can vary from patient to patient. This is why we require that you secure transportation to and from your appointment. We also recommend you take the day off of work, so you have adequate time to recover. You should be ready to resume your normal activities the following day.


Dr. Spraggins DDS at River Valley Dental is dedicated to helping patients get the dental care they need to maintain healthy smiles through quality dental treatments. If you have any questions about conscious sedation dentistry, call our dentist in Grand Rapids at (616) 363-5677. We look forward to seeing you!