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J Mass Dent Soc. 2007 Fall;56(3):44-5.

What every dentist should know about the "z-sedatives".

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Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, USA.


According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 30 percent of all Americans complain of sleep disruption, while 10 percent display symptoms congruent with chronic insomnia. One of the most common treatments for insomnia is prescription sleep medications that help people fall asleep and remain asleep. Historically barbiturates were initially popular for treating insomnia, but their long "hangover" effect made them easily replaced with the introduction of the benzodiazepines. Triazolam (Halcion), diazepam (Valium), and oxazepam (Serax) rapidly became the treatment of choice for insomnia. Recently a new class of nonbenzodiazepines---the "z-sedatives"--has overtaken the older benzodiazepines as the most commonly prescribed sleep medications. The three most popular z-drugs are zolpidem (Ambien), zaleplon (Sonata), and eszopiclone (Lunesta). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also recently approved the production of zolpidem tartrate, a generic form of Ambien. Many dentists prescribe these medications for patients who have difficulty sleeping the night prior to an appointment or as a procedural sedative. With 43 million prescriptions for sleep medications filled in 2005, generating $2.7 billion for pharmaceutical companies, it is important that dentists be aware of these drugs' mechanism of action and potential drug interactions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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