Oral Or I.V. Sedation

Posted on Jul 26, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Whether a patient has fear or anxiety associated with dental visits or merely wishes to be more relaxed during a long procedure, sedation options can help greatly.

In our office, we offer oral or I.V sedation to accompany many procedures. While both are beneficial to quelling anxiety, tension, stress or even intense feelings of fear, each has its advantages as well as limitations.

For individual who have trouble relaxing in a dental chair or even feel anxious or fearful, oral sedation is often sufficient. The medication is in pill form and taken before the patient leaves their home. A companion will drive you to our office. By the time you arrive, you’ll feel very relaxed and groggy. A trained staff member will escort you to a treatment suite where you’ll be made comfortable.

Oral sedation’s intensity increases gradually, so by the time you are seated in the treatment chair, you should be very relaxed. The staff member will attach safety monitoring equipment and will check this carefully throughout your procedure.

Injections are given to sedated patients once they are fully relaxed and in a state near to ‘dozing.’ However, even in this state, a patient can respond to simple requests, such as “Turn a little more towards me.” While you’ll be able to respond, you likely won’t remember any of the procedure afterwards.

Once your procedure is completed, you’ll be monitored for a brief recovery period. A bonus of oral sedation is its quick recovery. After your companion returns you home, you may want a short nap but many patients are fine after several hours.

While oral sedation provides a very relaxed, near dozing state, I.V. sedation puts you in a complete sleep state. This is sometimes referred to as “twilight sleep.”  I.V. sedation is ideal for people with higher levels of fear or dental phobia. A dental phobic is an individual who has such deep-seated fear that just the thoughts of walking into a dental office causes sweating, crying or rapid heart rate.

I.V. sedation is delivered through an I.V. drip, or intravenously. It takes effect rather quickly and patients nod off within minutes. This is when numbing injections are administered and, once they’ve had time to take effect, treatment begins.

Typically, you’ll be able to respond to simple requests while under I.V. sedation. However, I.V. sedation generally erases all (or most) memory of treatment afterward. A few adults vaguely recall hearing a voice but most remember no part of their procedure. For patients with high fear, this is a desirable effect of the drug.

Once your companion returns you home, you’ll nap for a time. I.V. sedation does require a longer recovery time. After a nap, you may feel groggy or hazy for several hours but should start to regain your focus by that evening. You’ll be given post-op instructions that include cautions during recovery when sedation is used. Driving or using appliances or machinery is highly discouraged and can be dangerous to you and others.

Whether given oral or I.V. sedation, your comfort and safety is a priority at all times. And, while sedation is helpful when fear or anxiety exist, some people who have no fears at all request sedation for its ability to relax them during lengthy times in a dental chair.

Achieving a healthy, confident smile can occur in comfort! Never hesitate to ask us about comfort options if you feel these may help create a better experience during your treatment. Call 828-274-9440.


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