IV stands for intravenous. Medication that is administered intravenously is administered through the veins. Because of its rapid effects many patients prefer this option.
IV sedation medication is delivered through a very small needle placed in either the top of your hand or within your inner elbow.
Fear of needles is not uncommon and some patients aren’t able to tolerate IV sedation for this reason. However, most people describe the sensation as a small pinch or prick. Also, dentists can further reduce the feeling by giving you an oral sedative beforehand and/or applying a topical anesthetic where the needle will be placed.
Just like other forms of sedation dentistry, IV sedation is designed to relax you and make you completely comfortable. IV sedation also eliminates your anxiety and pain. Although you may lie back in the dental chair with your eyes closed, you will not be asleep during your appointment and will still be able to respond to verbal cues from your dentist. Because you are completely relaxed, your dentist can accomplish more high-quality dentistry in less time. IV sedation can benefit you if you have a sensitive gag reflex or difficulty sitting in a dental chair for long periods of time. You’ll be so relaxed that you’ll be unaware of the sights, smells and sounds of the dental office. Patients remember little-to-nothing of their appointment by the next day.
IV sedation gives your dentist optimal control of the amount of medication administered and allows them to readily increase or decrease your level of sedation as needed, quickly and comfortably.
An additional benefit of IV sedation includes faster onset of the sedation medications, meaning you’ll be able to feel the effects of the medication quickly.
Your first appointment with the dentist will be a standard consultation. This is when your dentist will take a complete health history, conduct a full evaluation of your needs, perform a preliminary oral exam and explain the procedures being recommended. Your blood pressure, oxygen level and heart rate will all be measured, and your dentist may choose to complete x-rays during this appointment as well. It’s critical to tell your dentist about all medications and supplements you take so they can check for any potential drug interactions with the sedation medications that will be used. As with all dentistry, safety comes first! Once a treatment plan is agreed upon, your dentist will have you fill out paperwork giving your consent for treatment, answer any questions you may have and issue pre-appointment instructions and/or medications. Your dentist may choose to contact your primary care physician or any medical specialists you see for a consultation. This is done to ensure that you’re a good candidate for the type of treatment being proposed.
Most dentists require that a patient does not eat or drink eight hours prior to their IV sedation appointment, and a companion is required to take you to and from the dental office. Just like oral sedation, your IV sedation dentist or one of their trained assistants will be with you at all times. You will never be left alone. Patients are encouraged to wear loose, comfortable clothing and shoes that can easily be removed to ensure total relaxation. Upon lying down in the dental chair, an assistant will bring blankets to wrap around you so you feel comfortable and warm.
Your dentist will closely monitor you throughout the entire appointment by tracking your blood pressure, heart rate and rhythm, oxygen level, and pulse. Additional monitoring devices may be used by your dentist if deemed appropriate. Your dentist will also pay close attention to the positioning of your neck and head to ensure that your airway stays open and comfortable.
Upon administration of the IV medication, you will quickly begin to feel relaxed and at ease. The sights, smells and noises around you will dissipate. Wrapped in blankets, you’ll feel warm and safe. Your dentist can usually accomplish a significantly larger amount of high-quality dentistry while you are sedated. Because your jaw, tongue and facial muscles are relaxed as well, your dentist can more efficiently provide you with a higher level of treatment..
There is no set amount of recovery time because every patient is different. However, many patients begin to feel more alert soon after the IV medication is stopped. You should not drive or operate heavy machinery for at least 24 hours after the end of your appointment. If you experience any nausea after treatment, your dentist can usually provide a prescription to help. Patients are encouraged to sleep and drink plenty of water and clear fluids for the remainder of the day. In regards to recovery from the actual dental work itself, your dentist will give you individualized instructions for aftercare. Many sedation patients report significantly reduced pain levels the day after their treatment. There are multiple theories for why this is, but the common thought is that because a sedation patient is relaxed and not tense during their appointment, the dentist can often use less force as well as access the mouth more easily.
Patients have different insurance plans, so there is no single answer. Generally speaking, most dental insurance plans do cover part or sometimes even all of the cost of IV sedation. It’s best to check with your insurance provider prior to your appointment to confirm your plan’s benefits.