Oral and IV Sedation
Sedation induces a calm, relaxed state in the patient through drugs such as tranquilizers, anti-anxiety medications, depressants, and nitrous oxide. Sedative administration may be either oral or intravenous (IV). Today, oral sedation is the most common form used by dentists and periodontists. Some patients prefer it, as it requires no needle and the patient remains conscious, rarely remembering the visit due to an advanced state of relaxation during treatment.
IV sedation delivers sedative drugs directly to the bloodstream via injection in either the hand or arm. It is both safe and effective, although not as popular in modern dentistry as oral sedation. For both sedation methods, patients must arrange for transportation from the facility.
What to Expect with Oral Sedation
Visiting the dentist is still a scary proposition for many people, even into adulthood. This fear may cause patients experiencing dental issues to put off treatment, exacerbating problems and making treatment more difficult. The dental industry recognizes this and offers patients sedation to relax them during the procedure. Oral sedation is the preferred method for most dentists.
This popularity arises from the fact that the patient remains conscious, although in an advanced state of relaxation. The conscious state allows the patient to respond to the doctor’s instructions, making treatment easier.
Oral sedatives contain both anti-anxiety medication and an agent that induces sleepiness. Light sedation relaxes the patient while moderate sedation induces a greater sleepy feeling, reducing motor skills. Your periodontist chooses which level best serves your treatment.
To allow them to take full effect, take oral sedatives approximately an hour before treatment. Oral sedation is not pain relief; local anesthesia is still necessary. If part of the patient’s fear of dental treatment arises from needles, the oral sedation relaxes the patient before administration of the anesthetic.
What to Expect with IV Sedation
Sometimes called twilight sedation or twilight sleep, IV sedation alleviates anxiety while undergoing dental treatment by relaxing and calming you. You typically drift into and out of sleep, although some patients sleep the whole time while others don’t sleep at all. Regardless, you likely remember nothing of the procedure afterward.
IV sedation enters the bloodstream through a thin needle attached to a tube feeding the sedative in a slow, constant drip. The goal is maintaining the sedated state with the least amount of sedative drugs. If necessary, your doctor administers an antidote that reverses the sedative effect.
The Benefits of Sedation
The most obvious benefit of sedation is its calming effect on patients, especially for those who experience heightened anxiety with dental treatments. Patients who might otherwise neglect oral health address dental issues early, making treatment easier.
A secondary benefit is time. Under sedation, dental treatments that may last hours feel like minutes to the patient. This allows your periodontist to complete complicated treatments, such as smile makeovers, in fewer sessions.
Which Method is Better?
Ultimately, your doctor chooses which method to use, as both have specific applications. Your dentist knows whether oral or IV sedation best suits your prescribed treatment. He or she will advise you, although you may request a stronger sedative if your dental anxiety is severe.
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