Frequently Asked Questions about IV Sedation

Frequently Asked Questions about IV Sedation

1. Can IV sedation make you feel light-headed or spaced out?

IV sedation doesn’t make you light-headed. It’s best described as a sort of mellowed-out and relaxed feeling (as opposed to a drowsy or spacey feeling), but you may not actually remember what it felt like.

2. Can IV sedation make you feel nauseous or sick?

Quite the opposite! IV sedation suppresses nausea very effectively. This means it’s suitable for those who are concerned about getting sick.

3. I’m scared of feeling out of control

There is nothing to stop you from working out a “stop” signal in advance. Even after the IV line is in, you won’t be paralyzed and you can still talk. You can also still withdraw your consent. There may be some points during a procedure where stopping wouldn’t be a great idea, but just knowing you can stop things helps most people.

4. What if I “fight” the sedation?

You may have come across stories on the Internet about people for whom IV sedation didn’t work. This is very rare.

For example, sometimes people who have been on benzodiazepines (the type of drug used for IV sedation) for long periods of time may have developed a tolerance to them.

Other times, the sedationist may have been a bit inexperienced and perhaps did not administer the drug correctly, or in sufficient quantities. It might be that the line wasn’t going into a vein properly and thus the person was getting the drugs IM (intramuscularly) instead of IV (intravenously), which has much poorer uptake and a much slower onset. 

But the vast majority of the time, and with a dentist you trust, IV sedation works really well!

5. I have a fear of numbness – what happens if I come around and panic because I feel numb?

The good news is that usually, by the time the IV has worn off, so has the numb feeling! You can find more information on this common fear here: Fear of Feeling Numb

6. How is IV sedation given?

The drug goes into a vein in the arm or back of the hand, using a cannula called Venflon. The Venflon has a very fine needle which is wrapped up with a tiny soft plastic tube. Once the Venflon has been inserted into the chosen site, the needle is then slid out, leaving only the thin flexible tube in place.

It takes about 3 to 5 minutes for the IV sedation to take effect for most people. The IV drugs are administered a little bit at a time, and your dental team will be by your side throughout.

7. Is it still necessary to have a local anesthetic (an injection in the gums)?

The drugs dentists usually use for IV sedation are not painkillers. While they relax you and make you forget what happens, you’ll still need numbing with a local anesthetic.

8. Will my dentist numb me before or after I’m sedated?

If you have a fear of dental injections, you won’t be numbed until the IV sedation has fully kicked in. By then, you’ll probably be so relaxed that you don’t care. Your dentist will then wait until you’re fully numb before starting on any procedure.

9. But how does the dentist know whether I’m numb?

You check the local anaesthetic has worked by asking the patient. Just because they’re sedated doesn’t mean they can’t answer you… In fact, they better be able to answer or they ain’t sedated, they’re anaesthetised! If they’re not numb enough they’ll soon tell you. But they won’t remember telling you of course because of the amnesia effect.

10. What can I do if I’m terrified of the IV needle?

Make sure you discuss your fear with your dentist. They may have ideas for helping you with your fear.

Related / Dental Sedation For Kids

Please fill the required fields*