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My Experience: Dental Work & Halcion

I am not going to lie. I am a big freaking baby when it comes to dental work. I can push a baby out in my kitchen with no drugs, but the second they start touching and scratching my teeth, I turn into a big blubbering wreck. I shake. I cry. Sometimes I puke. And I pass out. It’s a big, ugly and embarrassing ordeal, not to mention, a pain for the dentist trying to work on me while I’m doing all of the above. It just… never goes well.

In the past I have used a combination of valium (diazepam) and nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to deal with my dental anxiety. It’s been effective before and I figured that is what my new dentist would use. He told me they use something called triazolam for dental work (also known as halcion). I had never used triazolam and wasn’t sure what to expect. The youtube videos weren’t very reassuring, but I decided to just trust my dentist and go with the flow.

About Halcion

Halcion is primarily used for dental work, but at one point was used in medical and hospital settings, especially so for the treatment of insomnia and sleep disorders. It is a powerful sedative, in the same class as other benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium. ¬†Halcion commonly produces retrograde amnesia, meaning the patient won’t remember what happened after the fact. Halcion seems to be preferred because patients can understand and comply with directions, but are relaxed enough to perform the work. Halcion is a controlled prescription drug in the United States.¬†Patients under the influence of Halcion cannot drive to and from their appointment and will require an escort. Halcion is favored due to the fact there are few contraindications. For more information on Halcion and dental work, please visit Dr. Brian Hoffman’s website.

Taking the medication

My dentist instructed me to take the first pill an hour before my appointment. I felt absolutely nothing for about 20-30 minutes and then my legs started feeling funny and I wasn’t exactly able to form my thoughts into words as quickly as I would have liked to. Once I was at the dentist, he administered the remainder of the pills sublingually, under the tongue. Beyond this, I really don’t remember much, so you’ll need to watch the video.

Memory Loss

I only know this because I went through the texts and Facebook messages I sent while on the medication. I told people I felt fine and felt lucid, but I knew I was going to forget shortly… then an hour later I would send the same text message, not realizing I had already talked to the person and already said the same thing. This makes me worry I was conscious in the moment, but not after. I can remember some of the feelings and emotions (panic!) I had during the dental work, but I can’t really remember actual events. I do know at one point I was crying and panicking and I was given nitrous, but I am not sure if I actually remember this, or if I only “remember” it because I was told it afterward.

My overall impression

The halcion was effective in memory loss, but the effects lasted way too long. I don’t remember most of the entire day (and it was my 10 year wedding anniversary). It’s a weird feeling knowing you have amnesia over a certain period of time. I think, if I were to need dental sedation again, I would request valium and nitrous oxide. Valium wears off pretty quickly and relaxes you without the amnesia component.

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