Visits to the dentist's office should be easy. But for some people, visiting the dentist fills them with anxiety and dread. You may have heard of IV sedation in dentistry and how it can help relieve stress and discomfort in dental procedures. IV sedation is not available at all dentists' offices, but it may be the right solution. Learn more about IV sedation and how to ask your dentist for more information.
What you should know about IV sedation at the dentist's office
IV sedation, also known as conscious sedation, is a drug administered with a needle into a vein to manage discomfort and anxiety during medical or dental procedures. Contrary to popular opinion, most IV sedation keeps you awake. You tend to be less aware of every step of the process and feel a little loopy.
Other forms of sedation include medicine you inhale (like nitrous oxide) or sedatives taken in a pill. Your dentist will work with you to decide which type of sedation is best for your situation, procedure and concerns.
According to an article in the Australasian Medical Journal (AMJ), IV sedation is usually reserved for patients who suffer from severe anxiety during dental procedures. The main benefits of IV sedation are that it works quickly; it's easy to adjust the dose, and patients tend not to remember what happened during the procedure. Only dentists with specialized training can provide IV sedation, so it is not available at all dental offices.
IV sedation requires more preparation on your part than other types of conscious sedation. For example, your dentist may need you to avoid eating or drinking anything other than water for at least eight hours before the procedure.
You will need to have a friend or family member drive you to your appointment and take you home. While IV sedation is conscious sedation, you may still feel tired after your procedure. Prepare to stay home the rest of the day until the effects of the sedation wear off.
Before you have IV sedation, your dentist will walk you through any preparation or requirements before your procedure.
IV sedation in dentistry is not like what you see on medical TV shows. You'll be awake and will be able to hear your dentist talk to you and follow commands. The purpose of the sedation is to relieve anxiety and discomfort. For example, if you need a cavity filled, your dentist will administer the IV sedation before giving anesthetics. That should help with discomfort from the needle.
If you feel anxious or scared of major or even routine dental procedures, sedation might help you deal with the anxiety so you can take care of your oral health. However, older people and people with other health conditions may have an increased risk of side effects. You should talk to your dentist about trying sedation, and they will speak to you about the available options.
To avoid needing a major dental procedure in the first place, keep up with proper oral hygiene habits. Brush twice a day, floss once a day, and rinse with a fluoride mouthwash to take care of your teeth. Lastly, trying other anxiety-management techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or listening to music to help to avoid anxiety-produced dental problems.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.