Sedation dentistry, or IV sedation dentistry, offers people with dental phobias and other patients with special needs the opportunity to undergo dental procedures while fully relaxed. During IV sedation, you’re able to breathe on your own, but so relaxed that you probably won’t remember anything about the procedure itself. While each dentist who offers sedation dentistry may have slightly different processes and procedures, generally speaking, here is what you can expect with sedation dentistry.
Are You a Good Candidate for Sedation?
While there are different methods of sedation dentistry, IV sedation uses medicine delivered through an intravenous solution to relax the patient completely. These medications are powerful, and may react with some prescription medications. They’re also not right for everyone. It’s important for you to make an appointment with the dentist you’re considering for IV sedation and to thoroughly disclose during that appointment any medical conditions, prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, herbs or supplements you’re taking. While it might seem as if herbs and vitamins are harmless, many can interact with medications, including sedatives, and it’s important that the dentist and/or the nurse anesthetist knows all of these facts before your actual sedation dentistry appointment.
Your dentist will conduct an examination, necessary X-rays of your teeth, and discuss the pros, cons and possible side effects of IV sedation. You should feel comfortable asking your dentist to explain any parts of the procedure or your treatment plan that you don’t understand.
After you and your dentist agree to IV sedation during your dental procedure, you’ll make an appointment to return for the actual procedure.
On the Day of the Procedure
Although IV sedation is performed in the dentist’s office, it isn’t something to be taken lightly. You should have a responsible adult drive you to your appointment and take you home again afterwards. It’s recommended that you do not drive, go to work or school, or make any important decisions for 24 hours after sedation to ensure that the medicine’s effects have completely worn off. If you’re instructed to fast before the procedure, make sure you follow the instructions to the letter.
The Procedure Itself
During IV sedation, either the dentist or a nurse anesthetist will start an IV in your arm. Yes, it does use a needle, but most people report it feels like a pinch or prick in the arm. Although it is acceptable that a dentist administers the IV, it is preferable that a certified registered nurse anesthetist administers IV sedation. Not only does a CRNA have advanced training in anesthesia, but the CRNA can monitor your breathing, blood pressure and other vital signs during the procedure, which frees up the dentist’s attention to focus exclusively on your dental treatment. It’s easier for the dentist and probably safer for you, so consider carefully the staff, facilities and credentials of the people at your dentist’s office before making an appointment for IV sedation.
The dentist will use additional medication to numb your teeth and gums before starting the procedure, although you probably won’t remember it. After the procedure, the sedation will be reversed and you will ‘wake up’ enough to go home.
After the Procedure
It’s important to follow all the instructions your dentist gives you regarding home care after the procedure. These instructions will vary depending on the treatment you received during the IV sedation appointment.
You may still feel a little groggy after your appointment. Plan to spend the rest of the day relaxing at home. By the next day, you’ll probably be ready to go back to work or school and feel like your old self again.
Benefits of IV Sedation Dentistry
Some people are so afraid of the dentist that they avoid an appointment at all costs. Yet the costs of neglecting your dental health can be high. Not only does it affect your appearance, but it can seriously affect your health, too.
If you’ve been putting off getting your Wisdom teeth extracted, having a painful tooth examined, or even a routine appointment, IV sedation dentistry may be a good option for you.
Please consult your dentist or physician with any questions you may have about sedation dentistry. This information should not and cannot substitute for advice from your personal physician or dentist.