IV sedation dentist is the dental professional who can provide intravenous conscious sedation to patients either in the dental office or in a hospital environment. IV sedation dentists offer the most effective method of dental sedation, but they are much less in number from the dentists who offer oral sedation or nitrous oxide.
IV sedation dentists are sometimes called as ‘sleep dentists’, although the term is not accurate in case of the conscious IV sedation discussed here. In this case the patient is in a sleep-like state but always remains conscious without really sleeping.
The amnesia effect of the sedative drugs used by IV sedation dentists helps patients to remember little or nothing from the procedure, which makes them believe that they were sleeping during the procedure. If the drugs given intravenously put the patient completely asleep and unconscious, the procedure is considered as 'general anesthesia' and not as 'IV sedation'.
In order to practice IV sedation, dentists are required to have certification by the local Dental Board and specialized advanced training for themselves and their dental team.
Specific educational requirements may differ from country to country, or from state to state in US, but in general IV sedation training programs include several hours of theoretical training (such as patient selection, drugs characteristics and administration, patient monitoring, handling emergencies and more), and observation of at least 10 sedation cases including some actual hands-on cases.
IV sedation dentists must have formal training in Basic Life Support and ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and at least one other member of the dental team must be trained in Basic Life Support.
Additionally, the dental office of an IV sedation dentist must be equipped with special devices for monitoring the sedated patients including pulse oximetry, heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure. A second member of dental staff must always be available and present during all IV sedation procedures.
If all the above requirements are fulfilled, a dentist must also get a special permit from the local Dental Board or Dental Association before practicing IV sedation dentistry.
Due to the additional time and costs associated with the advanced training, licensing, additional equipment and staff, dentists practicing IV sedation are not common among general dentists. For the same reasons, the cost of IV conscious sedation dentistry is much higher than that of other methods such as oral or inhalation sedation, but remains a safer alternative to general anesthesia.