IV Sedation (Sleep Dentistry)

IV Sedation (Sleep Dentistry)

What is Intravenous (IV) Sedation?

IV Sedation refers to the use of pharmacological agents administered intravenously to calm and relax a patient prior to and during a dental appointment. The pharmacological agents belong to a class of drugs called sedatives, which exert their action by depressing the central nervous system allowing the patient to be calmer, more relaxed and usually unaware of the procedure taking place.

IV Sedation is also known as ‘twilight sedation’ and is a state of being in-between awake and asleep. Patients are still semi-conscious and are able to respond to commands such as ‘take a deep breath’ or ‘open wider’ with no recollection of the procedure. The sedative drugs used have anterograde amnesic properties meaning that patients don’t remember what happens during the time the drugs are active. Memory before and after sedation is usually not affected. Patient’s often feel that the whole procedure passed in only a few minutes when in reality, it may have taken several hours.

No procedure is too small for this process. If you are one of those patient’s who is too anxious to even have a dental clean, then sedation can definitely help you.

The most common procedures performed under dental sedation are:

  • Wisdom teeth extractions
  • Tooth extractions
  • Fillings
  • Implants

However, any dental procedure can be performed.

What to Expect

On the day of your dental sedation, monitors are set up to assess Blood Pressure, Oxygen Saturation, Pulse Rate and an ECG is placed to monitor the heart both before and during the dental procedure. Once fitness for IV sedation has been established, an intravenous line is set-up. Sedative and pain relieving drugs are administered via this IV line and instant relaxation is felt within a few minutes allowing the dentist to initiate the dental procedure needed. Local anesthetic is only administered once sedation is underway so there is no awareness of any needles or
the procedure.

Preparing for Dental Sedation

Prior to the dental sedation appointment, fasting from food and liquids for at least 6 hours is mandatory. Usual medications may be taken with a small amount of water however this should be discussed with Dr Melissa Licenblat beforehand. A responsible adult who will also escort the patient home must accompany the patient. Loose, comfortable clothing is recommended to allow the blood pressure cuff and ECG nodes to be placed.

The recovery period is the time after the dental procedure and dental sedation has ended. During this time there is constant monitoring of the vital signs and the patient may still feel relaxed and ‘sleepy’. The amount of time in recovery depends on the individual patient and can take between 15-45 minutes. Only when the dental sedationist feels the patient is alert and steady enough to walk on their own will discharge of the patient be allowed.

Discharge is only allowed if a responsible adult is present to escort the patient home and travel is only allowed in a private vehicle (no public transport or taxis). Once home, we recommend a light meal and relaxation (usually sleep) or sitting down. An adult must be present to care for the patient at home for a period of 24 hours after the intravenous dental sedation. Within this time, the patient must not drive or operate any machinery.

Below are a simplified version of these pre and post – sedation instructions. Filling out the Dental Sedation Medical Questionnaire electronically will allow Dr Melissa Licenblat to assess your medical history prior to your appointment and discuss it with you if there are any issues.

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