IV Sedation Dentistry 101

IV sedation dentistry can be an incredibly helpful option for patients who experience stress and fear when it’s time for dental appointments. Anxiety about dental appointments is a surprisingly common problem—in fact, the American Dental Association estimates that 22% of Americans avoid dental visits due to fear and anxiety. Delaying dental care is never a good idea; routine visits to a dentist you trust can reduce the risk of tooth loss and severe dental infections, prevent long term issues such as gum disease, and catch serious issues like oral cancer early. If you’re one of the many Americans who suffer from anxiety when it comes to your oral care, there is good news. Dentists have a variety of tools to help address your anxiety, including IV sedation dentistry. 

IV Sedation Dentistry—What is it?

IV stands for “intravenous”—meaning the sedation medications are administered through a vein during your dental appointment. Introducing anti-anxiety medications through the blood system allows you to quickly enter a “twilight” state. Although some have compared this twilight state to sleep, you will not be asleep during your IV sedation dentistry appointment. Instead, you’ll be fully relaxed with a feeling that many patients describe as “at peace.” You will most likely be conscious enough to respond to the dentist’s questions and prompts during the procedure, but after the procedure you will probably only have vague and fuzzy memories of the experience.

IV Sedation Dentistry—What Can You Expect?

Before your IV sedation appointment, talk with your provider about what time of sedation they will be using. Be sure to tell the dentist about any other medications you are taking, including prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. 

During your IV sedation dental appointment, your care provider will use a very thin needle to establish an IV line into a vein in your hand or arm. This IV line is a small tube that will deliver the sedative directly into your bloodstream. This method allows the medication to work very efficiently, bringing you to the relaxed state very quickly. Most people do not find the IV setup painful in any way, but if you have a fear of needles, your provider can use a topical numbing cream at the site of the IV. Your dentist may leave the IV in for the duration of the procedure, or they may remove it once the appropriate amount of sedation medicine has been delivered. Either way, you will achieve the same level of conscious sedation. 

Once your IV sedation is set up, your provider will continuously monitor your vital signs, including pulse, blood pressure, and oxygen levels, to ensure you are responding well to the sedation medication. Our dentists are highly trained in IV sedation dentistry, and we use all the best practices to keep you safe at all times. Although you will stay conscious throughout the procedure, you will be extremely groggy. You will need to arrange for a family member or friend to drive you home, and we recommend that you take the entire day off from work. You should be fine to return to work the following day after your IV sedation dental procedure. 

Why Use IV Sedation Dentistry?

IV sedation dentistry offers many benefits for patients with anxiety or fear, and for patients who need to have procedures that may be considered uncomfortable without sedation. Benefits include: 

  • By administering the sedative directly into the bloodstream through the IV line, the patient can achieve the desired relaxation state faster and more efficiently..
  • IV sedation is suitable for patients with gag reflex.
  • IV sedation does not render you totally unconscious, so you will be able to breathe and move on your own. 
  • With IV sedation dentistry, the dentist can perform multiple procedures in one visit. This can make your dental care more affordable and more efficient, and can reduce anxiety in patients who experience stress every time they visit the office. 
  • IV sedation often causes amnesia about the procedure. You may not remember much about the procedure at all once you are done and the sedative has worn off. 
  • IV sedation carries less risks and causes fewer side effects than general anesthesia.

Is IV Sedation Dentistry Right For You?

IV sedation dentistry is an excellent option for patients who fear needles, dental procedures, and dental offices. Even if you don’t generally experience anxiety about dental visits, your dentist may recommend IV sedation dentistry if you need a complex procedure such as a root canal, implants, or a complicated dental extraction. Finally, IV sedation may be the right choice for you if you simply need to undergo multiple procedures at once, and the idea of a long stay in the dental chair may cause you stress.

The compassionate and caring specialists at Relax Dental are highly trained in IV sedation dentistry, and ready to talk with you about your dental care at any time. Reach out to us to set up an appointment or to chat about our sedation dentistry options at 336-841-0000 (High Point) or 336-226-4714 (Burlington). 

IV Sedation Dentistry—FAQs

Will I be completely unconscious with IV sedation dentistry?

IV sedation dentistry will bring you into an extremely relaxed and groggy state, but you will not be totally unconscious. You will be able to hear and respond to the dentist during the procedure, but you may not remember much after the procedure is over and the sedative has worn off. 

Can any dentist perform IV sedation dentistry?

Only specially trained dentists should perform IV sedation dentistry. Here in the state of North Carolina, the state dental board requires that any dentist wishing to perform sedation obtain a permit. The permitting process requires proof of advanced training and an in-office evaluation. 

Will I feel any pain with IV sedation dentistry?

You should not feel any pain during an IV sedation dental procedure.