There is a BIG difference between Oral Sedation and IV Sedation! Don’t let there be any misunderstandings.
Oral Sedation is typically a pill that you swallow, usually lorazepam or triazolam taken an hour or so before your dental procedure. Now I’ve done some fairly extensive dentistry for patients when only using oral sedation. So it is quite effective…for the right patient and the right situation.
However, when I have a patient who wants a deeper level of sedation, the only option I have with oral sedation is to grind up another dose of whatever drug I’m using, and sprinkle it under the patient’s tongue. It takes at least 20 minutes for the patient to feel the effects of whatever I gave them.
If I have a patient who is just mildly fearful, doesn’t mind knowing a little about what’s going on around them and just wants to be lightly sedated, then Oral Sedation works well in my hands.
But, if I have a patient who wants to know nothing that went on…we are talking about the most fearful, anxious and terror-stricken dental patient. To get a moderate sedation where the patient remembers nothing of their appointment, IV Sedation is the better choice.
Many dentists advertise Oral Sedation Dentistry. I will explain here the difference between IV Sedation and Oral Sedation so you can make an educated decision when having your care.
Some patients do well and are comfortable with being awake and aware of what is going on during a procedure while others would rather be completely unaware and asleep. In between these two extremes are several variations.
There are several methods of Sedation Dentistry between Nitrous Oxide, Oral Conscious Sedation and IV Sedation. Using the one that is right for you will be determined by many things:
The Three Levels of Oral and IV Sedation Dentistry
Conscious Sedation Dentistry
Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas)
Nitrous oxide is a gas that is generally used to help you feel more relaxed during a dental procedure. It is inhaled through a small rubber nose piece placed over your nose. The effects of it wear off within minutes after use. It is best used for patients with mild anxiety in the dental office or for short, uncomplicated dental treatments.
Oral Conscious Sedation
Oral conscious sedation is accomplished with a pill and must be taken on an empty stomach. While you’ll still be awake during this level of sedation you’ll feel very relaxed, kind of sleepy, and be less aware of what is going on in the dentist’s office. It offers a deeper level of relaxation then nitrous oxide. Because people react differently to medications, however, the level of sedation is harder to control. Also, the effects of the pill do not take effect immediately, so adjusting the level of sedation quickly during a procedure is difficult. Oral conscious sedation is best used with patients who have mild fear about dental appointments, have a mild gag reflex and when procedures are fairly short in duration.
Many dentists that advertise they offer sedation dentistry, offer only Oral Sedation Dentistry, which is technically Oral Conscious Sedation. We see many patients in our office who come to us and say that they have tried Oral Sedation and and they still had trouble with gagging, or they could still hear everything going on around around them, or just simply, they wanted to have a deeper level of sedation.
Intravenous (I.V.) Sedation
I.V. Sedation in Dentistry is the greatest development for fearful dental patients in many years. It produces a much deeper level of sedation, usually within just a few minutes. Patients can receive treatment without feeling pain, remembering or experiencing the smells, tastes or noises of dental visits. Administering I.V. Sedation is quick, predictable and can be adjusted during treatment so the procedure can be easily completed. In addition, because the patient is more deeply sedated, prolonged procedures are easily completed without the need for numerous visits.
I.V. Sedation is often the answer for people with moderate to severe fear of the dental office and dental procedures. It is also a useful method of sedation when the treatment is prolonged or complicated because it allows these treatments to be completed in one or two visits.