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IV Sedation Dentistry

IV sedation dentistry puts you in a relaxed state while the dentist provides needed treatment.

“Sedate Me”

Dental chickens come in every shape and size. Some true dental phobics cannot bring themselves to complete any dental treatment because of this fear. For these people, IV sedation dentistry is a tool that enables them to get back in the dental chair and make themselves a priority.

IV Sedation 101

IV -- intravenous, or in the vein. This is often referred to as sleep dentistry. This is a common misnomer, as sleep dentistry brings to mind thoughts of being put to sleep. In fact, this is not the case. You will remain conscious during IV sedation. You will be able to understand and respond to any requests from your dentist.

IV sedation is perfect for those with dental anxiety because of the side effects that accompany this type of sedative. This process produces partial or even full memory loss (amnesia of the dental experience) in the patient.

This works really well for both the dentist and the patient. As the patient, you will be aware of what is happening on a purely detached level. You can answer questions, accommodate requests and generally do what you're told.

Simultaneously, the influx of drugs in your arm (or hand) will give you a peaceful feeling. Basically, you won't be bothered in the least by any poking or prodding. As a bonus -- you'll remember virtually nothing!

This is nice for your dentist as well. He or she will be able to monitor your pulse and oxygen levels with a handy-dandy "pulse oximeter." The dental care team will be able to monitor any ill effects the drug may have on your central nervous system. A blood pressure machine is also monitored to ensure your safety.

Drug Basics on the IV

The pharmaceuticals used for dental IV sedation are not narcotics. That means they do not dull your senses. Instead, the drug used for sedation is in the benzodiazepine (benzos) family. In a nutshell, IV sedation relies on an anti-anxiety sedative to provide patients the comfort they need.

IV sedation may ease your anxiety, but it won't prevent pain. That means you'll still need a local anesthetic before your procedure begins. Since people who choose this kind of sedation are likely afraid of the needle, local anesthesia can easily be administered once the dental IV drug has taken effect.

In addition to the sedative, some dentists add in a strong pain-killer, such as Morphine and Demerol, to the IV. These drugs help prevent discomfort and post-operative pain.

Amnesia for Every Visit

If this sounds great to you and you'd like to forget every dental experience, it is important to realize the advantages and disadvantages of dental IV sedation.


- Eliminates memory of the dental procedure
- Dental IV drug dosage will be exactly measured for the individual
- This type of sedation is deeper than oral sedation (Valium) or inhalation (laughing gas) sedatives
- Gag reflex is diminished
- Great for those with dental anxiety


- $220-$390 per hour
- Needle site can become inflamed
- Escort required -- you will need to be driven to and from the dental procedure
- Can consciously fight IV drugs, making it harder to become successfully sedated
- Does not deal with your fear of dentists 

Ask your dentist to explain all of your options. Pay close attention to your after-care instructions, as you will want to be aware of any side effects that might be the result of the IV sedative.

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