If you’re going in for dental surgery, it’s perfectly normal to be nervous. In fact, 75% of adults in the U.S. experience some degree of dental fear, and 5-10% of adults experience dental phobia severe enough that they avoid dental treatment and care at all costs.
But one thing you shouldn’t have to worry about is your sedative. In fact, a sedative is often the best way for someone with dental anxiety to deal with major procedures, and as a result, it’s become a standard mainstream procedure practiced by over 40% of U.S. dentists.
Intravenous Conscious Sedation, or IV sedation, introduces a drug into the blood system during surgery to induce a state of deep relaxation without putting the patient to sleep. Most of the time you’ll be mildly aware of what’s going on, but it won’t bother you. In fact, patients experiencing dental IV sedation are still able to move and interact with their dentists.
Short-acting benzodiazepine, or “benzo,” is the most commonly used drug for IV sedation. It has three main effects: reducing anxiety, making you sleepy, and producing mild amnesia during the procedure.
Don’t let the amnesia part give you pause. It only lasts as long as the procedure, and as a result, it will feel like time passed very quickly and you’ll remember very little or nothing about the procedure. Many people even feel like they’ve been asleep, though this isn’t strictly true.
The maximum level of sedation a patient can reach using an IV is deeper than it would be with oral or inhalation sedation, but it’s still not full unconsciousness. Most patients are still partially conscious, but their altered perception of the situation reduces their fear and anxiety. The sedative also alters your perception of pain, so barely anything will feel painful or even unpleasant during your procedure.
IV sedation generally doesn’t have any lasting effects, but it does leave some patients temporarily disoriented, so it’s a good idea to have a friend or family member to drive you home and help you out until the drug wears off. For most people, it will wear off fairly quickly, though this differs from patient to patient.
What does all of this mean for you? Basically, it means that your big scary dental procedure will feel like it goes by in a comfortable blink. You won’t have to face a fear of being completely knocked out, and you also won’t have to experience any fear during your procedure.
Don’t suffer the pain and anxiety of dental surgery if you don’t have to. Ask your dentist if IV sedation is available for your next major dental procedure and leave fear in the past.