I.V. Sedation – Dream away while your mouth is restored!

Dr. Garrett here!! At Fisher Jones Family Dentistry, we pride ourselves on creating a comfortable and relaxing environment for all of our patients. Despite the lengths we go to in order to make every patient’s experience a pleasant one, there are still those who fear a dental visit. Studies demonstrate that dental fear and phobia exist in 15% – 30% of the general population of the US. For many, this fear prevents them from even stepping into a dental office. As a result, many people live every day of their lives with chronic oral pain, which leads to poor overall health. They may also lack confidence as their smile has been ravaged by years of untreated disease. Thanks to a service called “Intravenous Moderate Sedation” (IV sedation) many of these people are able to receive the care they desperately need.

IV sedation uses a combination of safe, effective drugs administered directly into the bloodstream to provide a predictable level of sedation. This is much different than the administration of sedatives through an oral route, which has unpredictable and less effective results due to the time required for the drugs to reach the bloodstream. This oral route of administering sedatives requires no extra licensure at this time and can be a very risky procedure for the untrained dentist to perform.  In order to perform I.V. sedation, a dentist must obtain an extra license through the state requiring countless hours of lecture and dozens of actual patient cases.  I frequently have patients referred to me from dentists in the area that have attempted and failed at sedating them through the oral route.  Through IV sedation the effects of the drugs used are seen within 15-30 seconds. As a result, the drugs can be given in small, safe increments to achieve the perfect level of comfortable, relaxing sedation for each patient. The patient remains conscious, but is sedated to such a level that most will fall asleep. Most patients experience profound amnesia, and thus have very little to no memory of the entire appointment. At the end of the appointment the patient is gently awakened and driven home by a responsible friend or family member to spend the rest of the day relaxing in the comfort of their own home.

I personally perform a lot of surgery in the office (from dental implants to bone grafts to wisdom teeth extractions), and two of the most common questions I encounter are: “Do I need to be sedated?” and “Why should I be sedated for this procedure?”  I tell my patients that sedation is a method of relieving anxiety during a difficult or stressful procedure.  When one encounters a stressful situation, their “flight or fight” response is naturally engaged.  This involves the release of stress hormones, also known as catecholamines, that are known to effect our bodies in profound ways.  Not only do they increase our heart rate and blood pressure, but they also delay healing and actually contribute to the breakdown of tissues.  During a surgical procedure in particular, the less of these stress hormones we have floating around in our bloodstream, the better.  In addition, for those patients who have poor cardiac health, decreasing this stress during a dental appointment can potentially decrease the risk of a serious cardiac event.  For some patients, the stress of simply having their teeth cleaned can prevent them from visiting a dentist.  Stress is a serious foe!!  Luckily, we have a solution to overcome it.

IV sedation is a wonderful service that has improved the lives of many patients in our practice. If you or someone you know has been putting off seeing the dentist because of fear or anxiety, do them the favor of informing them of this option that is now available. I am happy to meet with anyone for a consultation to discuss whether IV sedation is a viable option.


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