The American Dental Association estimates that 22% of Americans avoid dental visits due to fear and anxiety. Putting off dental visits increases the risk of tooth loss, severe dental infections, or even oral cancer. Fortunately, dentists are now using dental sedation techniques which are aimed at helping patients obtain the necessary dental care without the characteristic pain and anxiety.
What is IV sedation dentistry and how does it work?
Intravenous (IV) sedation refers to the administering of an anti-anxiety drug through the blood during your dental treatment. An IV sedation dentistry is sometimes referred to as ‘twilight’ or ‘sleep’ dentistry. However, rather than putting you to sleep, the sedative helps you to relax and feel at peace. While you will be in a position to respond to the dentist’s questions, your treatment procedure will be vague once the sedative wears off.
How does IV sedation work?
During your dental appointment, the dentist will introduce a thin needle into a vein on your hand or arm. The needle is connected to an intravenous tube that delivers the sedative directly into the bloodstream. A numbing cream may be applied to the area that will be pricked by the needle if you fear needles. While some patients stay with the IV for the entire duration, others might not be able to do so. In this case, the drug is administered, and the needle removed.
Both situations achieve the same degree of conscious sedation. The doctor will constantly monitor your pulse and oxygen levels to make sure you do not have a negative reaction to the sedative. Your blood pressure will also be checked before and after the procedure. You might feel a little groggy after the procedure. For this reason, have a family member or friend drive you home. It’s also advisable to take the full day off so that you can have sufficient rest.
Benefits of IV sedation dentistry
Compared to other forms of sedation dentistry, the IV is more beneficial because:
The effects of sedatives administered through the bloodstream are achieved in a shorter duration.
IV sedation is suitable for patients with gag reflex.
IV sedation does not affect body processes, but only eliminates your ability to feel pain. Thus, you will be able to breathe or even move on your own. This also makes it easy for the dentist to identify any abnormalities during the procedure and respond swiftly.
The dentist can perform multiple procedures in one visit. This means that patients who need extensive dental care can receive treatments in fewer visits. This not only reduces the fear and apprehension associated with dental visits but also cuts down on dental care costs.
The amnesic state typical of IV sedation implies that the patient has little or no recollection of what happened during the procedure. The patient is not aware of the smells, sounds, and sights of the procedure or the dental office.
Due to the fewer side effects compared to other sedation methods such as general anesthesia, there is less discomfort after the procedure.