Whether you have a sensitive gag reflex, require a surgical procedure or have simply had a bad dental experience in the past, and you don’t feel as though oral or inhalation sedation will be enough, then IV sedation might be worth considering.

IV sedation is also known as conscious sedation and sleep or twilight dentistry and it is the most advanced form of dental sedation. But what’s involved in undertaking IV sedation at the dentist?

Tulip Dental Sedation

IV sedation is much milder than a full general anaesthetic as you are not unconscious but in an induced, highly relaxed state. This means that your body will also retain the ability to breath unassisted as opposed to general aesthetic in a hospital setting where you need a ventilating machine.

You should feel no pain during the procedure, and when you ‘wake up’ you will have no memory of the smells, noises or dental procedure and will feel like no time has passed at all. You will basically feel like you’ve had a deep and satisfying sleep!

In terms of IV sedation at the dentist, only dentists who have taken part in additional training are allowed to perform conscious sedation in their practice. Ongoing education is also required for dental practitioners. This Registration Standard requires endorsed dentists to complete an approved competency based course in dental sedation and medical emergencies before applying to renew their registration.

Furthermore all dental assistants who assist during IV sedation have completed a sedation course and hold a higher resuscitation certificate in order to be able to monitor you while in a sedative state.

The NZDA only approves sedation techniques for use by suitably qualified practitioners in practices that are also approved in terms of the facilities, equipment and staff.

If undergoing IV sedation at the dentist, when you come in for your dental procedure, it will usually take around 20 minutes for your dentist to place in an IV line and administer sedation. Conscious sedation uses a combination of sedative and pain-relieving drugs and anaesthetic cream is also often used beforehand in order to reduce the sensation of the IV line being put in.

During the procedure, the team will constantly monitor your blood pressure and measure your pulse and oxygen levels through state of the art equipment. Your dentist and qualified assistant will stay by your side for the entire procedure to ensure your safety and comfort.

If you’re having several different procedures, the sedation may be adjusted with more being used during an extraction and less being used for a filling for example. Dentists will also often lower the level of sedation during a filling procedure so that you still feel relaxed but can offer feedback in terms of how comfortable you are.

Before the procedure, your dental professional will run through your medical history, issues like heart problems may mean you will need to have your dental procedure under IV sedation in an ‘outpatients’ hospital setting.

After a short period of time after treatment under sedation you’ll be awake and able to walk around. However, if you sit down and rest you may very well fall asleep again! This is why patients should have someone to pick them up after treatment and with them at home after the procedure is completed.

One of the main reasons patients choose to undergo IV sedation is due to fear and anxiety. In some people this is due to having heard frightening stories or having had less than ideal dental experiences in the past. This fear is difficult to overcome and often amplified by years of avoiding dental appointments. Patients undergoing surgical procedures or potentially uncomfortable implant replacement or wisdom teeth removal also often choose this procedure as they are happy to not have to remember it at all!

Some people also elect to have IV sedation because they have a hypersensitive gag reflex that can make regular dental treatments difficult if not impossible to perform. Others aren’t necessarily fearful, they just have extensive treatment needs which involve multiple dental appointments. With IV sedation, a range of treatments can usually be performed in the one visit, which makes the whole process extremely efficient.

The first step toward undertaking the procedure is to talk to your dentist. They will assess both your general and dental health, your treatment needs and outcomes and answer any of your questions. This consultation will allow them to decide whether IV sedation is the best option for you or whether they recommend another form of sedation such as light sedation such as oral sedation.

This will obviously depend on the procedure/s required, the duration of your appointment and the type of sedation you require. During your initial examination and treatment planning session, you will be normally be provided with a detailed estimate of all work being undertaken including the cost of sedation.

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