Intravenous (IV) conscious sedation is often used during dental procedures. It enables almost any patient to remain comfortable, relaxed and to feel safe during their dental work, and often avoids the need for a general anaesthesia. Anxious patients, those with needle phobias or patients that simply find it difficult to lie still in the dental chair can all benefit from this treatment.
A mixture of drugs is usually used: sedatives, which make the patient sleepy; anxiolytics which remove anxiety; amnestics which help patients forget the procedure, and painkillers. Only as much of each drug as is needed is used. The combination allows the patient to feel safe, comfortable and relaxed, while able to cooperate with the dentist. The amount of medication required varies with the type of patient and the type of procedure.
At Adelaide dental by design, a specialist anaesthetist always gives our sedation. He or she remains with the patient throughout the procedure and continually monitors breathing, heart rate and blood pressure as well as comfort.
IV sedation is more difficult in patients who are overweight, have heart or lung problems, gastric reflux disease or obstructive sleep apnoea. If a patient suffers with any of these conditions (or any other serious medical problems) they must discuss them with the anaesthetist before the procedure so that the sedation can be tailored to the individual. IV sedation can be complex in the face of coexisting medical problems but can be safely given in the dental rooms to almost everyone.
The drugs used are very short acting and the patient usually is completely awake 30 minutes after the procedure is completed. Very occasionally the effects may last a bit longer, so it is important that a responsible adult accompanies the patient for at least 6 hours afterwards, and preferably overnight.
Any patient having IV sedation needs to have nothing to eat for 6 hours before the procedure starts. This is to ensure that the stomach is empty. They should however drink small amounts of water up until 2 hours beforehand to prevent dehydration.