What Does IV Sedation Feel Like?

Author: Dr. Reem Kidess | Posted on with 0 comments

IV Sedation Dentistry and What to Expect
By Dr. Reem Kidess, DDS

At your recent dental visit, where you were told by your dentist that you need a dental procedure (or several dental procedures) that may require IV sedation to complete? You might be wondering, “What does IV sedation feel like?” I will address some of the more common questions my patients have had about IV sedation dentistry and what to expect.

IV sedation is just one of many methods used by sedation dentist professionals to help their anxious or fearful patients feel more at-ease and comfortable with getting care. IV sedation is only used by dentists who have special training which goes beyond what is required for the basic dental licenses. This means that when you are working with a trained and experienced sedation dentist, you are in very safe and good hands.

What Is IV Sedation?

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IV sedation is a method used with anxious patients or patients who need extensive work. Using IV sedation techniques, your dentist introduces a sedative drug, or a cocktail of sedative drugs, directly into the bloodstream through a small, intravenous port placed in the arm. If you have a fear of needles, your sedation dentist will work with you to find a comfortable solution to get the IV started. Once the port is in place, your sedation dentist will continue to monitor your vitals throughout the procedure.

Benefits of IV Sedation

One of the benefits of IV sedation includes how quickly it takes effect. While sometimes referred to as “sleep dentistry,” you aren’t really asleep at all. You retain some of your ability to move and communicate, which is important during the procedure for providing necessary feedback during the procedure.

Another benefit of IV sedation is the high level of control your sedation dentist has to adjust the level of medication being administered. While oral sedation – taking medication orally – is an easy and effective method for some, it is not as flexible as IV sedation. Oral sedatives take time to kick in, and if the dose is not enough to be effective, you may need a higher dose and need to wait longer for that to kick in. It also doesn’t last as long as IV sedation does. The medication drip through the IV, however, can be controlled very easily and it takes effect almost immediately. The goal with IV sedation is to get you as comfortable as possible on the lowest effective dose.

IV sedation also offers a mixture of options that can be customized for each patient. If one sedative is not appropriate, there may be another one or a mixture that can help get you through your procedure comfortably.

The last major benefit for using IV sedation in dentistry is the ability to complete several procedures on the same day. Oral sedation is not as flexible in this manner, but with IV sedation, there is a constant flow of medication controlled by your dentist that can get you through multiple procedures without having to make multiple appointments. This not only means less trips to the dentist, there may be a financial benefit to consolidating procedures, along with quicker recovery time.

What Does IV Sedation Feel Like?

IV sedation puts you into a very relaxed state. While you are conscious during your procedure, you may not actually retain any memories of what happened. You may feel as if you have drifted off for a very long nap only to wake up and your procedure is done!

IV Sedation Dentistry – What to Expect?

Because each patient has unique needs for sedation, the IV sedation process may not look the same for each patient. Your personal experience may be different to accommodate your medical history and level of anxiety. This is just a general overview of what you might expect during an IV sedation dentistry procedure.

Following a medical history inventory and creation of a custom treatment plan, you will need to show up to your appointment for treatment on-time so that you are not adding any additional stress to your day. Plan to be a little early if you can.

Once you arrive at the office on the date of your procedure, you may be given oral medication to help prevent any nausea and reduction in saliva, and help you get into a more relaxed state. Your dentist may take your blood pressure and place heart rate and oxygen monitors. An IV port is started, which is where one or more sedation medications will be administered with precision, directly into your blood stream at a steady level throughout the procedure. Lastly, you may be given a local anesthetic to numb the area where your dentist will be working.

In your deeply relaxed state, you will still be conscious and able to respond verbally, but your speech will be slow and your muscles will have poor coordination. Sedation when done properly by a trained professional, should not affect the functions of your autonomic nervous system, including respiratory rate and heart rate.

Following the procedure, you may receive a sedation reversal medication to help bring you back to coherency. Even with this medication, however, you will need to have someone else drive you home after your procedure until the affects have completely worn off the next day. You may still feel a little groggy and uncoordinated for a while, and that is normal.

Another beneficial side effect of IV sedation medication is that it often results in amnesia after the procedure. So, while you are technically conscious and responsive during the procedure, as the medication wears off, you may feel as if you just woke up from a nice nap. This is where the nickname “sleep dentistry” came from.

Is IV Sedation Safe? What are the Risks of IV Sedation?

Yes, IV Sedation is considered very safe when performed by an experienced medical professional who is specially trained in IV sedation administration. IV sedation is a bit of an art, so-to-speak, in that the person administering the IV sedation will monitor you and your response to the medication to find a level that is both comfortable and very safe. In fact, you will be continuously monitored throughout the entire procedure for breathing and oxygen levels, as well as pulse and blood pressure checks. Unlike oral sedation medication, which is taken into the digestive tract by mouth and cannot effectively be reversed, you can feel comfortable knowing that the effects of IV sedation can be quickly adjusted or reversed, if it becomes necessary.

Your dentist will take a detailed health inventory to determine if IV sedation is the best option for you. It is very important that you are completely honest with your answers, even if they might seem embarrassing. We do everything necessary to make sure our patients are safe.

How Quickly Will the IV Sedation Wear Off?

One of the upsides of using IV sedation techniques is that it is much more controllable than oral sedation methods. With IV sedation, we can halt the IV medication after you no longer need it and can administer reversing agents to help this along. While you may feel cognitively present, it is always advised to have someone else drive you home. You may feel tired or groggy for the rest of the day, but most patients feel safe to drive and go to work by the next morning.

Are There Any Side Effects? – IV Sedation Dentistry, What to expect

IV Sedation when used in the context of dentistry, almost always outweighs the associated risks. Mild side effects, many of which have already been mentioned above, include nausea, drowsiness, impaired judgement, amnesia, dry mouth, headaches, and/or swelling or bruising at the injection site. While overdose is technically a possible side effect, a professionally trained and experienced sedation dentist knows the signs to look for to prevent this from happening.

Is IV Sedation for Me?

Do you suffer from a fear of seeing the dentist, or are you avoiding the dentist altogether for fear that you have gone too long without proper dental care? Do you experience paralyzing apprehension about the idea of even a simple exam? IV sedation may be the solution you need to finally get your oral health back on track. I have helped countless people find the courage and tools that they need to see a dentist who will take care of their oral health needs. 

Contact our compassionate staff or fill out our form online to schedule a video consultation. While IV sedation may be the miracle you’ve been hoping for, there are many other options that fall under the umbrella of sedation. At PV Smiles, we strive to understand where each of our patients come from and work alongside you to help you realize your oral health goals. We use personalized care to create a treatment plan that works for YOU. At PV Smiles, my team and I celebrate each success story Now, it’s time to celebrate yours!

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