A lot of people experience some kind of anxiety over visiting the dentist. While one person might just feel a slight aversion to needles, other people end up avoiding the dentist altogether and fail to get the care that they need. Sedation dentistry is an effective way to help patients overcome these anxieties and have a more relaxed and effective treatment.
There are several forms of sedation available, and each one has its own benefits. Depending on your personal situations, patients may receive oral sedation, nitrous oxide, or general anesthesia. One option that has a lot of potential benefits – especially for those with severe anxieties – is IV sedation.
What is IV Sedation?
In IV sedation, the sedative drug is administered directly into the vein so it can start taking effect immediately. We insert a tiny needle into a vein that is close to the surface of the skin in the arm or the back of the hand.
The major benefit for us is that we can precisely control the level of sedation and adjust it on the fly if necessary. It allows us to monitor things like oxygen levels, blood pressure, and pulse, and change things as necessary.
The benefits for the patient, on the other hand, include the ability to reach a deeper level of sedation, a diminished gag reflex, and the added safety that comes from the ability to control the dosage.
One thing to understand, though, is that IV sedation is not meant to eliminate pain. It is not a narcotic drug. It is an anti-anxiety sedative which is meant to help you relax, feel sleepy, and produce partial or total amnesia. It is possible to add painkilling effects to the IV, but that will depend on your individual circumstances. Generally, a local anesthetic will be administered. (Which means that if you have a fear of needles, we will wait until the IV starts taking effect to administer the painkiller.)
Finally, while it is possible to put a patient completely asleep with this method, that’s not normally what happens. Generally, the patient is fully awake throughout the procedure, but fully relaxed. This way they can comply with instructions and answer important questions along the way.
However, after the procedure, you won’t have any memory of it. It will be as if you slept through the entire thing. You may remember feeling a little light headed, and then the next thing you know it will be over and it will be time to go home.
What Happens When It’s Over?
After the procedure, you will need to have someone else take you home. It may even be a good idea to have someone around the rest of the day, or at least until you can say that you’re fully alert again.
You should also avoid any strenuous activities and, just to be on the safe side, don’t risk driving at all the rest of the day. Just go home and take it easy for a while. That also means eating light and maybe taking a few sips of Coke if you start feeling a little nauseated.
Is It For You?
There are several types of sedation, and for a lot of patients, oral sedation before the procedure starts is enough to relax and ignore their anxieties. For others, IV sedation may be the answer. If you really dread visiting the office, give us a call and we’ll determine what kind of sedation will work the best for you.