IV Sedation Dentistry: The Complete Guide

Posted on: August 21, 2017

Many people suffer from dental anxiety. In their minds, the fear of sitting in the dentists chair greatly outweigh the benefits of regular teeth cleanings. Many of these people suffer from severe dental issues for years because they can’t bring themselves to visit a dentist. However, there may be another option. IV sedation dentistry allows those with dental anxiety to have clean teeth without all of the stress of going to the dentist. IV sedation dentistry helps people cope with their fears to improve their dental health.

What is IV Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry refers to the practice of using medication to help patients relax during dental procedures. There are different levels sedation dentistry. They range from mild sedation to full anesthesia. Depending on the procedure and your level of anxiety, your dentist can help you decide what procedure is correct for you. The levels of sedation include:
  • Minimal sedation where you are awake but relaxed.
  • Moderate sedation where you are still conscious but unlikely to feel or remember anything
  • Deep sedation where you are on the edge of consciousness but can still be awakened.
  • General anesthesia where you are completely unconscious.

What Types of Sedation Do Dentists Use?

Inhaled Minimal Sedation

With this type of procedure, you will inhale nitrous oxide, which is also known as laughing gas. The gas helps you relax. This is the lowest form of sedation that dentists offer. Nitrous oxide wears off quickly which means you return to normal quickly after the procedure. This allows you to drive yourself home, or return to work after your procedure.

Oral Sedation

Oral sedation can range from minimal to moderate, depending on the dose. Usually, your dentist will give you the drug Halcion, which is similar to Valium. Most of the time the dentist will provide you with the pill one hour before your procedure. Halcion will make you drowsy but you will still be awake. Furthermore, your dentist can increase the dose of the drug in order to increase the level of sedation. Oral sedation is the most common procedure with regard to sedation dentistry.

IV Sedation Dentistry

IV sedation dentistry is exactly what it sounds like. Your dentist will give you a anesthetic intravenously. This method allows a dentist to continually adjust the level of sedation. Your dentist can use IV sedation to make you completely unconscious. You will stay unconscious until the effects of the drug wear off or you are given another drug to counteract the effects. IV sedation is best for long and difficult dental procedures.

Is Sedation Dentistry Right for You?

Sedation dentistry is most appropriate for people with a high level of anxiety of fear of the dentist. If you struggle with your oral health because of fear of the dentist than it may be wise to discuss the possibility of sedation dentistry. Sedation dentistry may also provide benefits to people who:
  • Have a low pain threshold
  • Find it difficult to sit still in the dentist’s chair
  • Have extremely sensitive teeth
  • Require long and complex dental procedures
  • Or, have a bad gag reflex
Sedation dentistry can also help children that suffer from dental anxiety. Not all types of sedation dentistry are safe for children. The mild forms of sedation are safe for people of all ages. However, the higher levels of sedation may not be right for a child. If you are considering sedation dentistry for your child, consult with your dentist. They will be able to help you make an informed decision that is both safe and effective.

Can Any Dentist Use Sedation?

Most dentists can administer minimal sedation including nitrous oxide and pills. However, to preform higher levels of sedation, your dentist must have completed the Commission on Dental Accreditation program. Each state has different rules governing the use of sedation by dentists. If you are considering sedation dentistry, it is best to discuss the options that your dentist has available.

Is Sedation Dentistry Safe?

Just like many other medical procedures that require anesthesia, there are risks with sedation dentistry. However, a dentist with sedation experience can minimize those risks. Nitrous oxide and oral sedation are safe for almost everyone. There are a few factors that increase the risk with sedation dentistry. People who are obese or have obstructive sleep apnea should consult their dentist before having sedation. These people are more likely to develop complications.It is important to discuss your previous medical history with your dentist before any procedure. Also, you should discuss all of the options and the risks with your dentist. Lastly, you want to make sure you use a dentist with sedation experience. Dr. Berger has years of experience with sedation dentistry and can help you decide what procedure is best for you. Contact them today to discuss your case and whether or not sedation is right for you.