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IV Sedation in Dentistry: What Is It and When Is It Used?

Does the sound of a whirring dental drill make you dizzy? Do you get queasy just thinking about having a cavity filled? Does the idea of undergoing a routine dental cleaning make your palms sweat? Dentophobia, one of the many words used to describe the intense fear or anxiety that some patients experience when visiting the dentist, is very real.

However, avoiding even the simplest dental procedures can result in serious consequences for your oral and general health. If fear is keeping you out of the dentist’s office, it may be time to consider IV sedation. At Allred Dental in San Marcos, CA, Dr. Jeffrey Allred uses this safe method, which delivers medications intravenously to help keep patients calm and comfortable during dental treatments. Read on to learn more about the benefits of IV sedation.

What is IV sedation?
Also known as “sleep dentistry,” IV sedation allows Dr. Allred to provide to anti-anxiety medications similar to those that are used during oral sedation by dispensing them directly into the bloodstream. In most cases, patients feel as though they are sleeping despite the fact that they actually remain awake throughout their entire dental procedure. Also, once the medication wears off, it is unlikely that they will have any memory of being in this sleepy state or undergoing the dental procedure that they were fearful of in the first place.

Are you a candidate for IV sedation?
In general, most San Marcos, CA area patients who are in good health may be considered viable candidates for IV sedation. However, there are some exceptions. Patients who are pregnant, intoxicated, allergic to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, who have depression of the central nervous system, or have been diagnosed with certain types of glaucoma should not receive IV sedation.

Similarly, IV sedation may not be advised for patients who are of an advanced age, who have certain conditions involving the liver, lungs or kidneys, who are suspected of having or have received a diagnosis of sleep apnea, or who experience psychosis. Given his vast dental knowledge and experience, Dr. Allred is able to expertly determine whether a patient is well-suited for this type of sedation.

Which medications are used for IV sedation?
Similar to oral sedation, but requiring higher dosage levels, medications called benzodiazepines (specifically Midazolam and Diazepam) are most commonly used during IV sedation. These are effective for reducing the fear and anxiety that patients may experience during dental procedures. When used to control anxiety, these medications are designed to relax patients and cause them to feel a bit sleepy. As part of IV sedation, or “sleep dentistry”, they can cause temporary amnesia. In some cases, pain medications can be added to the IV, usually when a dental procedure is lengthy or postoperative pain is expected to be significant. However, this is not typical since the treated area will be numbed to minimize or eliminate discomfort.

The benefits of IV sedation
There are several notable benefits associated with the use of IV sedation during dental procedures. Patients with a fear of needles, sharp dental equipment, or who are upset by the idea of having their teeth worked on will not experience any pain and can relax during treatments. This may help to keep their blood pressure and heart rate at a normal level. As they are more deeply sedated than with oral or other forms of sedation such as nitrous oxide (better known as laughing gas), patients who are prone to gagging during dental work may experience a reduction of this while under IV sedation. Because temporary amnesia is a normal side effect, the procedure likely will not be associated with negative feelings in the future. Also, dental procedures tend to proceed more smoothly, comfortably, and quickly for patients under IV sedation, as well as for Dr. Allred and his dental assistants.

How IV sedation works
Prior to your dental procedure, Dr. Allred will review the sedation options that are available at Allred Dental in San Marcos, CA. If IV sedation is selected for you, your blood pressure will be checked. A topical cream will be applied to numb the skin where a needle will be used to insert the thin tube that administers the medication into a vein. This IV will remain in place for the duration of your procedure. Most patients begin to feel the sedating effects of the medication within a few minutes, at which point the dental work may begin. While under sedation, your oxygen levels and pulse will be monitored, along with your IV levels which can be adjusted by Dr. Allred as needed to ensure your safety and comfort.

In general, patients under IV sedation are deeply relaxed and unaware of what is happening during their procedure. You should still be capable of answering questions that may be posed to you. Once the dental work is complete, the IV will be removed and the blood pressure will again be checked. Patients can expect to begin feeling awake and more alert shortly afterward.

Recovering from IV sedation
It is common for patients to experience some nausea and memory loss during their dental procedure, however this should be temporary. Due to the nature of IV sedation, patients at Allred Dental in San Marcos, CA are advised against driving for at least 24 hours following their dental procedure. Also, they are required to have a responsible adult accompany them to their appointment, as well as drive them home afterward. It is not usual for patients to feel a bit groggy or tired following IV sedation, and most tend to sleep for the remainder of the day following treatment. During this time, men and women should drink adequate amounts of water and stay well-hydrated.

If nervousness and fears about dental procedures, equipment, or pain have prevented you from receiving regular oral care or from getting much-needed dental treatment to address an issue regarding your teeth, IV sedation may be able to help. This safe procedure can help patients feel more relaxed and comfortable while undergoing treatment with Dr. Jeffrey Allred of Allred Dental in San Marcos, CA. Schedule an appointment and learn how our staff can help make your next procedure a pleasant and relaxing experience.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.