IV Sedation Dentistry – A Discussion On How It Works

The Australian Dental Association and other dental experts suggest visiting your dentist for routine check-ups twice a year. For many patients, these check-ups and other dental procedures go very smoothly. However, there are also many people whose nerves and fear can get the better of them. This dental anxiety or phobia can lead to people refusing to book check-ups and dental treatment and can result in further problems with dental hygiene and diseases. One solution to dental anxiety is the growing popularity of IV sedation dentistry.

What is sedation dentistry?

A dentist will use medication as part of sedation dentistry to help patients relax during their dental appointments and procedures. In the past, it has been referred to as “sleep dentistry,” although that term is not necessarily accurate. With the exception of patients who undergo general anaesthesia, most people who opt for sedation dentistry are awake during the process, but are so relaxed they remember very little or nothing about the dental treatment.

How sedated can a patient be?

There are four levels of sedation used during sedation dentistry, depending on the fear and discomfort experienced by the patient:

  • Minimal sedation, where patients are awake but feeling relaxed.
  • Moderate sedation also called conscious sedation, where patients may slur their words while speaking and may not remember much of the procedure or the appointment.
  • Deep sedation, where patients are on the edge of consciousness but can still be awakened if necessary.
  • General anaesthesia, where patients are completely unconscious.

What types of sedation are used in sedation dentistry?

There are four main types of sedation used to help relax patients during a dentistry procedure. They are:

  • Inhaled minimal sedation, where nitrous oxide or a similar compound is inhaled by the patient along with oxygen through a mask placed over the nose. This gas tends to wear off quickly, and the dentist can control the levels of gas. This is also the only form of sedation which can allow the patient to drive themselves home after an appointment or procedure.
  • Oral sedation, where a pill is usually taken about an hour before the procedure and will make you drowsy while still remaining awake. Some people will fall asleep during their procedure after taking an oral sedative, but can usually be awakened by a gentle nudge or tap.
  • Deep sedation or general anaesthesia, which can make it hard to easily awaken the patient while it is in effect. This is the most intense form of sedation.
  • Intravenous sedation, where the patient is administered a sedative drug through a vein. This allows the drug to work quickly and also allows the dentist or surgeon to adjust the level of sedation easily.

candidate for iv sedation iv sedation dentistry coopers plainsAre you a candidate for IV sedation?

If your fear going to the dentist or feel anxious when you have to sit in the dentist’s chair, IV sedation dentistry might be a good choice for you. However, if you are older or have other health complications, you may be at higher risk for adverse effects of intravenous sedation. In many cases, people who are older are given a smaller dose of the sedative to avoid any complications.

Speak to a trusted dental professional at CP Dental to determine whether IV sedation dentistry is something you should consider so you can receive the dental care you need.

IV sedation dentistry is an ideal solution for patients with dental phobias and anxiety, multiple tooth extractions, wisdom tooth extractions, gag reflex, and complex or lengthy procedures.

Preparing for IV sedation

Dentists recommend not drinking or eating anything for at least six hours before any procedure where you will be receiving intravenous sedation. You will need a friend or family member transport you to and from the dental practice. You may not be at your best after IV sedation, feeling groggy for a little while until the sedation completely wears off. Avoid scheduling other activities and plan on resting the remainder of the day.

Also, make sure to speak to your dentist about any medications you are currently taking that could interfere with the sedation. They will know whether it is safe to keep taking that medication, and if it is not, they will recommend that you take a break from the medication or choose a different form of sedation.

At the dental practice

If a dentist uses IV sedation when performing a procedure, you will not be fully asleep. You will probably be aware enough to follow basic commands, such as if someone asks you to move your arm or turn your head, but you likely won’t remember later.

Your respiratory function won’t be affected. The dentist will monitor your vital signs during the treatment and in the recovery room.

If your dentist is performing a procedure which requires local anaesthesia, it will be administered after the IV sedation is performed so that it does not cause any undue fear or apprehension.

Final thoughts

If you are a good candidate for IV sedation, speak to your dentist at CP Dental about utilising intravenous sedatives for your next dental procedure. It can put your mind at ease and is a wonderful choice for eliminating the nerves that accompany dental treatments.

To learn more about IV sedation dentistry, or any of our dental services, call our clinic or book an appointment.

COOPERS PLAINS: (07) 3345 1099
MATER HILL: (07) 3050 3030
EMERALD: (07) 4987 6183


Coopers Plains

52 Henley Street, Coopers Plains, Qld 4108

Mater Hill

504 Stanley Street, South Brisbane, Qld 4101


3 Egerton Street, Emerald, Qld 4720