What is Intravenous Sedation?
This form of pain and anxiety control involves injecting a sedative into a vein of a patient’s arm or hand. This approach is usually reserved for patients undergoing extensive dental procedures or for the extremely anxious patient. Dentists need to monitor the oxygen level of patients receiving IV sedatiTon and may need to give such patients additional oxygen during the procedure. With IV sedation, the patient is awake but very relaxed.
If you think you may be interested in IV sedation, ask your dentist if he or she is licensed to administer intravenous sedatives.
What does it feel like? Will I be asleep?
The answer is no, you will not. A lot of dental offices and practices use terms such as “sleep dentistry” or “twilight sleep” when talking about IV sedation. This is confusing, because it suggests that IV sedation involves being put to sleep. These terms are more descriptive of deep sedation. Deep sedation isn’t commonly used (in the U.K. at least), and is classified as general anesthesia (even though sedation occurs on a continuum).
In reality, you remain conscious during conscious IV sedation. You will also be able to understand and respond to requests from your dentist.
However, you may 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.
First hand account of IV Sedation
“Basically, its just a tiny pinch in the back of the hand and in goes the ‘stuff’. Nothing happens for several seconds and then you begin to feel light-headed (a little drunk) for a few moments, which is not unpleasant Then instantly several hours have magically passed and everything has been done. Its like the flick of a switch which turns your brain off for an hour or two. You feel fairly dopey and woozy afterwards where you may want to go and sleep it off.”