IV (Intravenous) Sedation
What does it feel like? Will I be asleep?
IV sedation is very safe. You are not asleep during IV sedation, and maintain the ability to breathe on your own. You will feel like you are sleeping! Most people do not remember any of the appointment, not even walking in the door. If you were more sedated, this would be considered deep sedation, classified as general anesthesia which should be performed in a hospital or outpatient surgical setting.
Almost all the time, the patient does not remember much (or anything at all) about what went on because of two things:
- IV sedation induces a state of deep relaxation and a feeling of not being bothered by what’s going on.
- The drugs used for IV sedation produce either partial or full memory loss (amnesia) for the period of time when the drug first kicks in until it wears off. As a result, time will appear to pass very quickly and you will not recall much of what happened. Many people remember nothing at all. So it may, indeed, appear as if you were “asleep” during the procedure.
Is it still necessary to be numbed with local anesthetic? Will my dentist numb my gums before or after I’m sedated?
The drugs that are usually used for IV sedation are not painkillers but anti-anxiety drugs. While they relax you and make you forget what happens, you will still need to be numbed.
If you have a fear of injections, you will not be numbed until the IV sedation has fully kicked in. If you have a phobia of needles, you will be relaxed enough not to care by this stage. Your dentist will then wait until the local anesthetic has taken effect (i. e. until you’re numb) before starting on any procedure.
Is it safe? Are there any contraindications?
IV sedation is extremely safe when carried out under the supervision of a specially-trained dentist. Purely statistically speaking, it’s even safer than local anesthetic on its own!
However, contraindications include
- known allergy to benzodiazepines
- alcohol intoxication
- CNS depression, and
- some instances of glaucoma.
Cautions (relative contraindications) include psychosis, impaired lung or kidney or liver function, advanced age, and sleep apnea. Many people who have sleep apnea haven’t been officially diagnosed – if you are overweight and you snore, do mention this.
Heart disease is generally not a contraindication. If you do have cardiac problems, you are safer sedated than without sedation.
If you have been taking benzodiazepines for many years, your tolerance may be very high – so let your dentist know that you’ve been taking them!
Can I take valium tablets or other benzodiazepines beforehand?
Only if Dr. Michaels prescribes them. It is imperative that Dr. Michaels knows what drugs you have taken so she can keep you safe.
What about eating and drinking before sedation?
In the U.S., the standard advice appears to be no eating or drinking for 6 hours beforehand.
After IV Sedation:
- Have your escort take you home and rest for the remainder of the day.
- Have an adult stay with you until you’re fully alert.
- Don’t perform any strenuous or hazardous activities and don’t drive a motor vehicle for the rest of the day.
- Don’t eat a heavy meal immediately. If you’re hungry, eat something light, e.g., liquids and toast.
- If you experience nausea, lie down for a while or drink a glass of cola.
- Don’t drink alcohol or take medications for the rest of the day unless you’ve contacted your dentist first.
- Take medications as directed by your dentist.
- If you have any unusual problems, call your dentist.