IV sedation is when a calming drug, usually midazolam, is given into your arm or hand during dental treatment (IV stands for intravenous). The drug relaxes you and makes you feel sleepy.
IV conscious sedation is the strongest form of sedation available in general dental practice. Although you’re not fully put to sleep, you don’t tend to remember much (if anything) about the treatment. Any anxiety goes, and lots of people love how they are able to have treatment without even having to ‘experience’ it as such.
What does IV sedation feel like
During IV sedation, you will feel deeply relaxed and your anxiety will be greatly reduced. You will be less aware of what is happening, and you may feel sleepy. You will, however, be able to understand and respond to requests from your dentist, and you can let them know how you feel. Afterward, you may not remember much about the procedure. Many people remember nothing at all.
First-hand accounts of IV sedation
Basically, it’s just a tiny pinch in the back of the hand and in goes the ‘stuff’. Nothing happens for several seconds and then you begin to feel light-headed (a little drunk) for a few moments, which is not unpleasant. Then instantly several hours have magically passed and everything has been done. It’s like the flick of a switch which turns your brain off for an hour or two. You feel fairly dopey and woozy afterwards where you may want to go and sleep it off.
I’ve had IV sedation for an extraction. You feel extremely relaxed, very fuzzy in a pleasant way. Nothing whatsoever bothers you about the situation. You’re able to respond to the dentist and do what they ask. The drugs make the time seem to pass in an instant, and often you don’t remember anything of what happened – I certainly don’t remember much at all. You’ll need someone to take you home as you’ll be a bit woozy; I slept all afternoon and woke up feeling fine.
Will I be asleep?
Some dental websites use terms like “sleep dentistry” or “twilight sleep” when talking about IV sedation. This is misleading because it suggests that IV sedation involves being asleep or unconscious. These terms are more descriptive of deep sedation.
You stay conscious and awake during conscious IV sedation. However, you may not remember much (or anything) about what happened. Here’s why:
you will feel deeply relaxed and not bothered by what’s going on. The drugs used for IV sedation will cause memory loss from when the drug first kicks in until it wears off. As a result, time will appear to pass very quickly and you won’t recall much of what happened. Some people remember nothing at all. So it may, indeed, feel as if you were asleep during the procedure.
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