The stress, fear, and pain associated with dental settings is quite common, affecting nearly 50-80% of adults in the United States, with 20% of those choosing to not see the dentist regularly, and 9-15% never booking an appointment ever . Dental anxiety causes the patient to perceive a threat (that may or may not be there) which can provoke feelings of apprehension and cause a physical or emotional response. Common reasons as to why someone may feel anxious about the dentist include a bad past experience, fear of a costly treatment plan, or they may have a fear of needles or drills. Unfortunately, avoiding dental care can lead to bigger problems down the road, including tooth decay, gum disease, and even tooth loss. An excellent solution to dental anxiety is IV sedation dentistry, which is a safe and effective way to help patients relax during dental procedures so that they can get the care they need.
What Is IV Sedation Dentistry?
IV sedation dentistry, also known as intravenous sedation or IV conscious sedation, is a type of dental sedation where medication is administered through an IV directly into the bloodstream. The level of IV sedation can be easily monitored and adjusted by the dentist throughout the procedure as needed. This type of dental anxiety relief helps you feel extremely relaxed, while allowing you to still respond to questions during treatment. For most individuals, recalling the treatment procedure will be difficult, as it’s likely that you won’t remember anything after the sedative wears off.
How Does IV Sedation Dentistry Work Exactly?
During the appointment, a dentist trained in IV sedation will place a thin IV catheter (small, thin, flexible tube), into a vein in your arm or hand. Once the IV is in place, the dentist will administer the sedative medication directly into your bloodstream through the IV, which will help calm you down and allow you to relax. Once you start feeling a little groggy, the dentist will begin the procedure. You will remain conscious the entire time, and will be able to answer any questions presented to you. Other things you need to know:
- If you have a fear of needles, a local anesthetic may be used to numb the area where the catheter will go in.
- If your fear of needles is severe, the dentist may remove the IV after the sedative has been administered.
- Your pulse, oxygen, and blood pressure levels will be monitored before, during, and after the procedure to make sure that you do not have a negative reaction to the sedative.
You will need a family member or friend to drive you home, as you may feel very groggy after the procedure. You will also need the rest of the day off so that you can rest up.
Benefits of IV Sedation Dentistry
Many benefits that come along with IV sedation dentistry, including but not limited to:
- IV sedation is delivered directly into the bloodstream, achieving a pain-free state in a relatively short duration.
- IV sedation does not impair your body’s processes. You can still breathe, move, and answer questions. You remain in a conscious but groggy state.
- Multiple dental procedures can be completed in one visit, cutting down on future visits, costs, and apprehension that comes with needing more dental work at a later date.
- You will not be able to recall sights, sounds, or smells during the procedure. You will have an amnesic type state after IV sedation wears off, making recollection of the treatment a vague one.
- There are fewer side effects with IV sedation dentistry than other types, leading to less discomfort and complications after your appointment.
- You will have a quick recovery time from the IV sedation dentistry.
Who Is IV Sedation Dentistry Right For?
IV sedation dentistry is an excellent option for patients who experience moderate to severe dental anxiety, those who have anxiety about needles, drills, the dentist, or certain dental procedures like complex root canals, tooth extractions, or implant placement. It is also a good option for patients who have a sensitive gag reflex or are undergoing multiple, consecutive dental procedures. To find out if IV sedation dentistry is an option for you, you will need to disclose which medications you are taking, as these can sometimes interfere with the sedative used.