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Sedation Dentistry in Edmonton

IV (Intravenous) Sedation

Intravenous Conscious Sedation (aka "IV sedation") is when a drug, usually of the anti-anxiety variety, is administered into the blood system during dental treatment.

What does it feel like? Will I be asleep?

A lot of terms such as "sleep dentistry" or "twilight sleep" are used when talking about IV sedation. This is confusing, because it suggests that IV sedation involves being put to sleep. 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:
1. IV sedation induces a state of deep relaxation and a feeling of not being bothered by what's going on.
2. 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.

What are the main advantages of IV sedation?

  • IV sedation tends to be the method of choice if you don't want to be aware of the procedure - you "don't want to know".
  • The onset of action is very rapid, and drug dosage and level of sedation can be tailored to meet the individual's needs.
  • Benzodiazepines may produce amnesia for the procedure.
  • The gag reflex is hugely diminished - people receiving IV sedation rarely experience difficulties with gagging.
  • Patients are conscious, and they can cooperate with instructions.
  • Recovery from IV administered drugs is not complete at the end of dental treatment. You need to be escorted by a responsible adult.

What drugs are used? Are there different types of IV sedation?

The most commonly used drugs for IV sedation are benzodiazepines, or "benzos" for short. These are anti-anxiety sedative drugs.

Anti-anxiety sedatives (benzodiazepines): Midazolam and Diazepam

Mostly the drug used for IV sedation is a short acting benzodiazepine, or "benzo" for short. This is an anti-anxiety sedative. IV administered benzos have 3 main effects: they reduce anxiety/relax you, they make you sleepy, and they produce partial or total amnesia (i.e. make you forget what happened during some or, less frequently, all of the procedure). Total amnesia is more common with midazolam compared to diazepam.

By far the most commonly used drug for IV sedation is Midazolam, but occasionally Diazepam can be used. Midazolam is the first choice because of its relatively short duration of action (meaning that it'll be out of your system faster).

After IV Sedation:

1. Have your escort take you home and rest for the remainder of the day.
2. Have an adult stay with you until you're fully alert.
3. Don't perform any strenuous or hazardous activities and don't drive a motor vehicle for the rest of the day.
4. Don't eat a heavy meal immediately. If you'e hungry, eat something light, e.g. liquids and toast.
5. If you experience nausea, lie down for a while.
6. Don't drink alcohol or take medications for the rest of the day unless you've contacted your dentist first.
7. Take medications as directed by your dentist.
8. If you have any unusual problems, call your dentist.