Dental IV Sedation for Dental Phobia

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Sedation provides many of us with severe anxiety with the ability to endure a dental procedure that would otherwise be extremely nerve racking. There are many available modes of IV sedation, and their usefulness and efficacy have been established in the past.

What is IV sedation?

IV stands for ‘intravenous’, which simply means that a needle is used to apply a substance directly into your bloodstream. In IV sedation, the substance injected into your blood is a sedative that causes deep relaxation while keeping you conscious and able to communicate with your dentist. Contrary to what such terms as ‘sleep dentistry’ might suggest, IV sedation does not render you unconscious.

Many people don’t remember the procedure after IV sedation because of its relaxing effects and because of the memory loss sedation can cause. Don’t worry though, this memory loss is only from the point where the sedative takes effect to when it wears off. The added advantage of this is that a lengthy procedure can feel very short, making you feel as if the procedure has taken barely any time at all.

What does IV sedation feel like?

Personal accounts describe IV sedation as a remarkably simple and quick process. You first feel a pinching sensation where the needle is inserted, usually on the back of your hand. The effects can be felt fairly quickly, after a few seconds you will feel a bit light headed, a sensation which is actually quite pleasant. The next thing you know the procedure is done and you have little to no recollection of what happened. Another bonus for some is that after the procedure you can feel quite relaxed and light headed, making any discomfort in your jaw fairly short lived as most people choose to go home and sleep it off.

Does IV sedation mean I don’t need to have a local anaesthetic?

IV sedation is used as a means of relaxing you and making the procedure as comfortable as possible, particularly for patients with dental phobias. They are typically a class of drug known as benzodiazepines, drugs broadly used to treat anxiety and in the UK the main port of call if someone is suffering from strong anxieties. These drugs do not, however, have any analgesic properties, meaning that it has no numbing effects, and so a local anaesthetic is still necessary to keep your mouth pain free. Fortunately, despite the fact that you don’t remember it, you are still lucid during the procedure. Which means that your dentist is still able to communicate with you and see how you’re doing and whether you are numb enough for the treatment to be conducted.

Opioids are a very strong class of analgesic and are often used in conjunction with benzodiazepines. Your dentist is only really likely to use these types of pain killers, which include morphine and Demerol, if there is likely to be some post-procedural pain.

Is IV sedation safe?

IV sedation has been used for quite some time now, and the safety of the technique has been reported both in research and by patients who have found it helpful to them. There are certain groups that are not suitable for IV sedation, and these include pregnant women, anyone suffering from clinical depression, under the influence of alcohol, or with an allergy to benzodiazepines. Caution is suggested when IV sedation is used for the elderly, psychopaths, and anyone with lung, kidney, or liver dysfunction.

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