IV sedation dentistry (intravenous sedation) is an advanced and effective method of dental conscious sedation used by highly trained dentists in order to perform dental treatments with their patients in calm and relaxed condition. IV sedation dentistry is the method of choice for the management of moderate to more severe levels of dental anxiety or dental phobia.
Intravenous sedation means that the sedative medication is administered directly into the bloodstream using a needle inserted into a vein. This allows the fast onset of sedation and gives the dentist better control on the sedation level; both are considered as main advantages of IV sedation over the other sedation methods. However the need to use a needle is one of the main concerns against IV sedation especially for needle phobic patients.
Many dental offices incorrectly advertise IV sedation under the term ‘sleep dentistry’. IV sedation dentistry is a method of conscious sedation, and should not be confused with sleep dentistry which is closer related to general anesthesia (unconscious sedation). With IV sedation dentistry a patient remains conscious during treatment, able to respond to questions or requests from the dentist, but in a totally relaxed state and relieved from any anxieties. However the amnesic effects of the used anti-anxiety medications give patients the impression that they slept through the procedure.
IV sedation dentists must have received specialized advanced training and must be certified by the local Dental Board before they can offer intravenous sedation to their patients. IV sedation dentists should also have formal training in ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and their dental office must be equipped with the necessary monitoring devices.
Dental IV sedation is usually recommended for oral surgery procedures, to help the patient relax during long and stressful treatments such as wisdom tooth extractions, dental implant placement, gum surgery and other invasive treatments.
Although IV sedation dentistry is mainly intended to offer anxiety control to severely phobic patients, they are not the only ones who regularly seek the benefits of IV sedation dentistry.
Before the IV sedation procedure the patient must follow the pre-operative instructions given by the dentist in the consultation appointment. Patients must also sign an informed consent form after the dentist has explained the potential risks of IV sedation.
Continuous monitoring of any patient undergoing IV sedation dentistry is critically important for ensuring the safety of IV sedation procedure. Breathing, pulse, blood pressure and oxygen saturation are monitored by a combination of clinical observation and use of electronic equipment.
Recovery from IV sedation dentistry may take up to 24 hours, and during this period the post-operative instructions must be followed carefully. IV sedation safety record is excellent when performed by a trained and experienced dentist in a properly equipped dental office. Certain medical and mental conditions are considered as contraindication for using IV sedation due to the increased risk of potential IV sedation side effects.