How Does IV Sedation Work?

Sedatives are different from anesthetics. Dentists, sometimes, utilize sedation alongside anesthesia. The purpose of the latter is to manage pain, while the former is to provide a calming effect to the patient. Now, sedation dentistry exists for patients’ discomfort and anxiety. It is the process of using drugs to suppress the central nervous system, making the patient “less aware” of what is happening, as well as their surroundings. But, apart from the popular “laughing gas,” there are several types of dental sedation, and one of them is IV sedation.  In this article, we are going to understand how does IV sedation works.


Understanding IV Sedation

IV sedation falls anywhere from moderate sedation to general anesthesia. It depends largely on the dosage.

Dental professionals administered the sedatives through the veins. Hence, the name, “IV” or intravenous, which means “into a vein.”

Provided that the drugs come directly to a vein, they take effect more quickly than the other types of sedation, like oral.

IV sedation does not put patients fully to sleep. While it helps individuals become less aware of their surroundings, they can still respond to verbal commands.

Also, if other medications are necessary for the procedure, the dentists usually administer them, as well, through the vein. These include pain medicines, steroids, or anti-inflammatories.


The Benefits and Advantages

If you are wondering whether this type of sedation is ideal for you, get to know the benefits and advantages of the process. Here are some of them:

  • Takes effect almost immediately

One of the benefits of IV sedation is that the effectiveness is almost instant. This is because the drugs are administered directly to a vein, then your system almost immediately welcomes them, allowing the sedatives to execute their purposes.

This means that you do not need to set a schedule for your sedation before your dental procedure, unlike in oral sedation. As it happens, the process will take place at your dentist’s office, right before the procedure begins.

  • Assistance in breathing is not necessary

When the sedatives are introduced to your system through your veins, you will remain conscious. This is especially true if the dosage administered is only moderate.

While your dentist will monitor your pulse, blood pressure, and even breathing during the procedure or treatment, you will not need any assistance for your breathing. This is because you are still conscious, despite being less aware. You can still respond to verbal commands or even do gentle nudging.

  • Consciousness loss is average

You will be in an extreme state of relaxation under IV sedation. But, you will not lose your consciousness completely, as noted above.

The main advantage of this is that the dentist can still wake you up in the middle of the procedure if necessary. This usually happens when they need to give additional instructions. If not, though, they can wake you up right after the completion of the dental treatment.


Drawbacks and Cons

While IV sedation has its benefits, like any other type of sedation process in dentistry, it has its downs, too. Here are some of the cons and drawbacks of it, and you may want to check them out:

One of the disadvantages of IV sedation is that it is pretty expensive. The usual fee for it is around $500 up to $1000 per hour. An additional $150 to $250 is also apparent per 15-minute increment in most clinics.

It is worth noting that the time coverage is only for when you are already sedated for the actual dental procedure. It does not include the set-up period, as well as the recovery time afterward.

In relation to the cost, considering that this type of sedation is expensive, most insurance policies do not cover this. So, if your dental procedure is an out-of-pocket expense, the overall cost will be much bigger because of IV sedation.

Most insurance policies only cover the basic sedation types, like oral and inhaled-form. But, there are insurance companies that do not cover even the cheapest sedation.

  • Extended drowsy feeling post-procedure

Most dental procedures can be completed in just a few hours. Despite this ending on a much earlier note, the effects of IV sedation do not.

There is no specific time when it would wear off. But, it usually takes 12 to 24 hours before you can fully recover from it. This varies, though, from one patient to another. Nevertheless, you will likely feel drowsy and groggy after the procedure.

This is why rest is a must afterward. Apart from the sedation process needing it from your system, you are not fully aware of what is happening, making you feel more tired and confused.

  • Assistance in going home is needed

Considering that the effects of IV sedation do not wear off immediately, you will need a chaperone with you during your dental procedure, especially after and when going home.

This is one of the cons of this sedation type. You will need assistance from your family or relatives, or even friends, to get home.


Final Thoughts

As noted, there are several types of sedation processes in dentistry, and IV sedation is just one of them. Although it offers many advantages and pros, it also has some drawbacks.

So, before you decide whether to take the sedatives through your veins, make sure that you understand all aspects of the process. Talk to your dentist, as well, considering that they know which sedation type will work best on your condition.


Disclaimer: The statements, opinions, and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of Credihealth and the editor(s). 

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