IV Sedation

Dec 01


Many people wonder what Sedation Dentistry really is.   There are many options and terms out there including “twilight”, “laughing gas”, “IV Sedation”, etc.  According to Merriam-Webster, sedation is: “a relaxed, calm, or sleepy condition that results from taking a drug (called a sedative)”.  This blog will help you understand what sedation dentistry is, and what our office can offer to make your visit as relaxing as possible.

First, let’s review the different types of sedation / anesthesia, listed in order of strength:

  • Local Anesthetics: Anesthetics similar to “Novocaine” are used in all of the procedures listed below. These numb the area we are working on to keep you as comfortable as possible during the procedure.
  • Inhaled Minimal Sedation:  Nitrous Oxide, otherwise known as “laughing gas”, is inhaled through your nose via a small mask.  The gas consists of a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen.  It helps to make you feel relaxed, similar to getting a good night’s rest. It also helps get rid of pain, equivalent to 10 mg of morphine.  Nitrous can be used by itself, or, even better, combined with the sedation methods listed below.
  • Oral Sedation:  Oral sedation is the usage of prescription medicine, taken by mouth, to provide a relaxed state. This can provide a minimal to moderate relaxed state.  Usually, Valium or Ativan is taken an hour before and/or the night before a procedure.  Of course, an increased dose will provide greater sedation.  Many times patients fall asleep during the dental visit, but can be awakened very easily by just saying their name.
  • IV Sedation: This is a moderate type of sedation where you will receive sedation medicine via a vein. This way the drug works more quickly, allowing the dentist to control the amount of sedation easily and safely.  Typically, we will use monitors to view your blood pressure, oxygen saturation, pulse, and breathing.  This way we have a better idea of how sedated you are during the procedure.  Since each patient is unique, sometimes we will combine oral sedation techniques with IV sedation to again provide a greater state of sedation.
  • Deep Sedation / General Anesthesia:  This type of sedation is used in situations where we believe you will need a much deeper form of relaxation.  We tend to use this form of sedation on patients with multiple medical problems.  A licensed anesthesiologist is in the room with us, who provides the anesthesia while we do the dental work.  Under general anesthesia, the monitoring of your vital signs and depth of anesthesia requires more attention than the dentist can provide alone.

As with any medical / dental procedure, there are inherent risks.  We take every precaution we can to make sure your sedation visit is as safe as possible. We schedule a pre-operative visit where we perform a comprehensive screening, which includes but is not limited to: reviewing your medical history, searching for any drug interactions that may occur between our sedation drugs and your current medications, evaluating your airway, and collecting vital signs.

Our goal is to make your stay with us as comfortable and stress free as possible.  At Bellefonte Family Dentistry, we offer all of the sedation techniques listed above.  Feel free to call us at 814-355-1587 or schedule a consultation visit so we can answer any questions that you may have.  We look forward to giving you the smile that you desire!

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