Intravenous Sedation

If you’re nervous about going to the dentist, sedation can help. Sedation uses an extremely safe medication to make you feel less anxious and more relaxed. Sedative drugs (medicines) can be given in a number of ways.

There are different levels of sedation and several methods can be used. You may have sedation:

  • by breathing in gas through a nosepiece (inhalation)
  • by injection into a vein in your hand or arm (intravenous)
  • by swallowing a medicine (oral)
  • by placing a medicine under your tongue or into the nose (transmucosal)

Here at Essence we use intravenous sedation (IV sedation).

How it works

Intravenous sedation is usually given by injection using a single drug called midazolam. This is usually into a vein in the back of your hand or in your arm through a cannula.

You’ll usually remain conscious and able to communicate with the dentist, but will feel extremely relaxed.

The benefits of IV sedation

  • You’ll feel relaxed and less anxious
  • There’ll be minimal pain even if we’re carrying out complex treatment
  • You’ll remember little or nothing afterwards

Why Essence Dental?

Here at Essence, we understand that many people feel anxious about going to the dentist and undergoing treatment. Our friendly team are used to dealing with nervous patients and we’ll always do our best to put you at your ease.

It’s our aim to make your experience with us as relaxed and pleasant as possible. We’ll take the time to explain your procedure in detail and answer all your questions before starting your treatment. If you decide that IV sedation is for you, your sedative will be administered by a specially-trained member of our team and we’ll keep a close eye on you throughout.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about intravenous sedation

Is it common to feel scared of going to the dentist?
Yes! You’re not alone – and there’s no need to feel silly or embarrassed about your fears. According to National Smile Month, around half of UK adults are scared of going to the dentist, with 12% suffering from extreme dental anxiety. At Essence, our staff are specially-trained to help nervous patients feel more relaxed and confident about their treatment.

Do I need IV sedation?
There are several circumstances where we might recommend IV sedation to our patients. These include:

  • Extreme dental anxiety
  • A previous traumatic dental experience
  • Very sensitive teeth, difficulty getting numb or a tendency to gag easily
  • Complex dental problems that require long treatment times
  • Distress caused by the smells or sounds of a dental surgery, such as the drill

Where possible, we prefer to treat patients without using intravenous sedation as, whilst this temporarily suspends your anxiety, it doesn’t tackle the root cause. However, we believe it’s an excellent option if you suffer from any of the issues noted above.

Are there any risks?
IV sedation is very safe when administered by a trained and qualified dental professional. However, as with the administration of any medicines, there are some risks associated with intravenous sedation. These might include;

  • A reduction of oxygen in the blood stream due to poor breathing during sedation.
  • You may be asked by your dentist to take deep breaths to correct this. Your breathing and oxygen levels will be monitored throughout the procedure.
  • Bruising at the site of the cannula. This may take several days to fade completely. Very rare risks include allergic reactions to the sedative drugs that you have been given or vomiting during the procedure.

Your dentist will discuss any concerns that you may have prior to the procedure taking place.

It is important that you let the dentist know your medical history, including any medicines that you are taking. The dentist will need to know if you have ever had any problems with having either sedation or a general anaesthetic.

If you think you may be pregnant, you need to let the dentist know. You may need to come back to have your treatment at another time. You should let the dentist know if you are breastfeeding.

How should I prepare for IV sedation?
You will need to attend the clinic for a pre-assessment where your dentist will discuss your treatment with you in details. The dentist will explain what you are able to eat and drink prior to your appointment. You will also be given this information in writing. It is important that these instructions are followed carefully.

The information provided here is a general guide for patients having dental treatment with sedation. As part of the face-to-face discussions with your dentist, you may be given advice that is specific to your treatment plan. This may differ in some areas to the general principles outlined here.

Before any treatment is started, the dentist will ask you to confirm consent. This means that you understand the planned treatment and how you will receive the sedation. We’ll ask you to only consume a light meal and non-alcoholic drinks on the day of your appointment. It’s important to note that we can’t carry out intravenous sedation if you’ve been drinking alcohol. If you’re on any medication, you can usually take it as normal, although your dentist will confirm this with you.

Can I drive myself to my appointment?
No. Having intravenous sedation means you won’t be able to drive home again afterwards.

Do I need to bring someone else with me?
Yes. You must be accompanied by an able-bodied adult who can take responsibility for you following your treatment. This person may need to stay with you overnight. If arrangements have not been made for someone to accompany you after treatment, you will not be able to have the sedation.

What type of drug is used for intravenous sedation?
Intravenous sedation is usually given by injection using a single drug called midazolam.

Will I still receive a local anaesthetic?
Yes, of course! Even though IV sedation means you feel less pain, it’s not a pain-killing drug. Once you’ve been sedated, your dentist will inject a local anaesthetic into the area of your mouth to be treated and wait for this to take effect before starting treatment.

How will I feel during intravenous sedation?
You’ll feel drowsy and less anxious, although you will remain conscious, you may have little or no memory of the procedure.

What happens when my treatment has finished?
You will spend some time in the recovery area following your treatment. You will be checked by the dentist or the person giving you the sedation before you can go home. Your judgement will be affected by the drugs. This is similar to the effects of consuming alcohol. You should not drive a car, ride a bicycle or operate machinery until the following day. In some cases, this may be for as long as 24 hours. You should also not take responsibility for the care of others, use sharp implements or cook. It would be unwise to make any irreversible decisions for up to 24 hours following your treatment. Owing to the after effects of the drugs used, care should be taken when using the internet for personal communication.

Before you are discharged, the dentist or dental nurse will give you and the adult accompanying you (escort) important information about your care. You will be given information relating to any local analgesia and the treatment you have received. The dentist will also provide details of pain relief as well as how and when to take other prescription medicines.

Q. What are the after-effects?
You may experience a temporary loss of memory during the time that you are sedated. Many patients have no memory of the procedure at all. You may feel unsteady on your feet for some hours after the procedure. Your ability to think clearly and make judgements may be affected for the next 24 hours. You may also experience some forgetfulness, this is normal. 

What training have your dentists done in IV sedation?
Our dentists have undergone extensive practical and theoretical training in intravenous sedation. We also attend regular refresher courses at the Society for the Advancement of Sedation in Dentistry (SAAD) in London.

What else can I do to help me relax?
There are lots of other things you can do to help make your experience with us as pleasant as possible. For example:

  • Talk to us about your fears so we can do our best to put you at ease
  • Book a morning appointment so you don’t dread coming to us all day
  • Bring a friend or family member with you into the surgery
  • Agree a sign with your dentist so they stop for a few minutes if you need a break
  • Bring your music player with you so you can listen to music during your treatment
  • Practice relaxation techniques or try a course of hypnotherapy
  • Reward yourself for completing your treatment – buy yourself something nice or book a weekend away

What are the alternatives to IV sedation?
At Essence Dental, your alternatives are local anaesthetic alone or referral to hospital for general anaesthetic. We always try to avoid giving a general anaesthetic, although certain types of complex treatment can mean it’s the best or only option. Your dentist will discuss all suitable options with you before we start your treatment plan.

Last updated: 14.05.2018 at 18:19 GMT