What is IV sedation dentistry?

There aren’t many people who view a trip to the dentist as an especially fun or recreational experience, but for most people, they are accepted as a necessary part of life. For some people, however, a trip to the dentist can mean overwhelming anxiety or even paralyzing dread. It is estimated that about 15 percent of people in the United States have some type of dental anxiety, which varies in severity. Sedation dentistry can be an excellent option for this population, and, if you are one of the people who truly dreads going to the dentist, sedation dentistry may work well for you. Sedation dentistry takes a few different forms, from the more mild inhalation of nitrous oxide, to the administration of intravenous sedation. This sedation, no matter the type, will ease your anxiety and help you become more comfortable attending dental visits. If you think you might benefit from sedation dentistry, your dental team can help decide what type might work for you.

The type of sedation selected by your dental team will depend on the level of anxiety you feel about a dental visit, and also on the type of procedure you need. Moderate intravenous (IV) sedation makes the patient less aware of their surroundings while under sedation, without putting the patient completely to sleep. As its name implies, IV sedation is administered through a vein, or intravenously, while other forms of sedation are administered in different ways. Conscious, IV sedation is reserved for patients who are almost unbearably anxious about visiting the dentist and having a dental procedure. The sedation goes into effect very quickly and essentially causes the patient to go into a period of amnesia, meaning they will not remember anything that happens during treatment. It is important that your dental team be very well-trained in dosing and administering IV sedation, and for this reason, not every dentist will offer this as a sedation option for their patients. If you and your dental team decide that IV sedation is the right choice for you, your dentist will recommend that you not eat or drink anything for at least 8 hours leading up to the procedure; you will receive detailed instruction from the dentist. You will also be asked to find a ride home from the dentist’s office, as you are likely to be groggy and spacey for a few hours following the procedure, as the sedation wears off, and it is important to give yourself the rest of the day to rest. Some prescription medications may have an adverse interaction with IV sedation, so be sure to tell your dentist about any medications you regularly take; you may be asked to stop taking certain medications before an IV sedation procedure. While you won’t be aware of your surroundings, you will likely be able to respond to basic commands while under IV sedation, and you will also continue to breathe on your own. If your procedure also requires a local anesthetic, this anesthetic will be administered after the sedation has taken effect.

If your overall health is generally good but your anxiety about going to the dentist is overwhelming, sedation can help you. Your oral and dental health is a significant part of your overall health, and regular professional dental cleanings are one of the most important parts of maintaining good oral health. If you are too anxious to visit the dentist for routine cleaning, your oral health can decline and lead to serious concerns. Sedation dentistry can alleviate this, providing you with a safe and secure way to visit the dentist for regular, routine cleanings and for other procedures as well. Some people, such as the elderly or people with underlying health conditions, may experience unpleasant side effects from sedation. Your dentist can determine the proper dosage for your specific needs, reducing the likelihood of adverse effects. Your dentist is the best source of information about IV sedation and how it can work for you, specifically. Your dentist can also inform you about other methods of sedation that may help your situation. If you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, call some area dentists and ask if they offer any types of sedation dentistry, and if they might be a good fit for you. Of course, regular at-home dental hygiene can also help reduce your need for dental visits, so be sure to brush twice daily with a soft-bristled brush, and floss or use a water pick daily to loosen debris and rinse away bacteria. The more you maintain your oral hygiene at home, the less time you’ll need to spend with professional sedation dentistry.

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