What Is Deep Dental Sedation?

While some patients are okay with a visit to the dentist, others find the mere thought of being in the dentist’s chair terrifying. Without effective pain management and anxiety control, patients tend to shun much-needed dental treatments, which makes numerous procedures virtually impossible. To avoid the stress that normally comes with dental procedures, medications like general anesthesia and sedatives have been designed to create a trusting environment for all patients.

Deep IV sedation refers to a drug-induced loss of consciousness which renders patients unconscious and unresponsive. It enables even the most anxious patients to be put into a state that allows dentists to successfully perform the needed procedures while the patient is in a comfortable “twilight sleep.” This is often misleading, though, since the procedure itself does not involve putting a patient to sleep. Instead, conscious IV sedation induces a state of deep relaxation, and a feeling of being unbothered by everything in one’s surroundings.

Intravenous conscious sedation or IV sedation refers to the injection of an extremely thin needle into a vein close to the skin’s surface, usually in the patient√Ęs arm or back of the hand. Many patients recall feeling a tiny pinch as the sedatives are being injected. Patients with needle phobias are given the choice of using numbing cream before being injected with the drug. Mild light-headedness may occur as the sedatives start kicking in, but everything will then seem like a blur until the procedure is over.

During IV sedation, the patient is subjected to either partial or full memory loss for a few hours. Most patients find themselves forgetting everything that occurred after the drugs have kicked in. Time will appear to pass very quickly, and will give the impression that the procedure only lasted a few minutes.

Benzodiazepines, a type of tranquilizers, are the most commonly used medications for IV sedation. Benzodiazepines reduce anxiety and promote relaxation while inducing sleepiness, and producing partial or total amnesia. Opioids, or strong pain-killers, can also be used as add-ons to benzodiazepines. The pain-killing features often appeal to most patients, but since opioids are generally used for post-treatment pains, patients are instead given local anesthesia for pains experienced during treatment.

Like all treatments, certain conditions have to be monitored before carrying out the procedure. Contraindications like pregnancies, drug allergies, depression, and large alcohol consumption are some of the things to look out for before taking the drugs. Other cautions include old age, sleep apnea, and impaired lung, kidney, or liver function.

The bottom line is that IV sedation is generally safe when administered by specially trained dentists. However, it is always a patient’s responsibility to do his or her share of research, and to seek the help of professionals before agreeing to go through with the procedure.