What to Expect Before, During, and After IV Sedation

Patients with moderate or severe dental fear or anxiety, patients with physical or neurological disabilities that make receiving dental care difficult, and those undergoing complex treatment plans make good candidates for intravenous (IV) sedation. This type of sedation dentistry delivers anti-anxiety medication directly to your bloodstream through a very small needle. Although IV sedation does not technically “put you to sleep,” it will leave you in a state of profound relaxation. To help patients feel more comfortable and well-informed on the subject, we’re taking a look at what to expect before, during and after IV sedation.

Before the Procedure

In general, you should not eat 6-8 hours prior to your appointment. If you’re scheduled for a morning appointment, this means no food after midnight. If you’re scheduled for the afternoon, you should make it a point to awaken early and eat a substantial (but not overly greasy) breakfast. Don’t drink any caffeine in the evening before the procedure to ensure that you get plenty of rest. Wear comfortable clothes and leave the jewelry and makeup at home. You will have arranged for a trusted friend or family member to accompany you to the appointment, drive you home afterward, and spend a few hours with you until the sedation wears off.

During IV Sedation

If needed, your dentist can apply a topical analgesic, or numbing cream, to the injection site so you don’t feel anything when he inserts the IV. If you don’t need to have the site numbed, you will only feel a small pinch since IV needles tend to be very thin. Since the primary purpose of IV sedation is to make you feel relaxed, not numbed, your dentist will wait until the medication has taken effect before administering numbing shots to the procedure site.

While you are “under” IV sedation, your dentist and the dental assistant will keep a close check on your vital signs to make sure your blood pressure and oxygen levels remain stable. Most of the anti-anxiety medications used in IV sedation dentistry cause a kind of temporary amnesia, meaning you will not remember the details of your procedure. In fact, many patients mention that time seems to pass very quickly even though they were technically conscious the entire time.

After the Appointment

Once the procedure has been completed, a staff member will help your escort get you into the car for the ride home. Your dentist will also leave post-op instructions and an appointment card for your follow-up with your escort. Before heading home, your escort will need to stop by the pharmacy to pick up your antibiotics (if needed) and your pain medication). Take a dose of pain medication when you get home and then curl up in your favorite chair or recliner and take this post-operative opportunity to rest, take a nap, and enjoy some quality downtime.

About Shawn Hofkes, DDS

With advanced training in oral and maxillofacial surgery and certification in oral and IV sedation, Shawn Hofkes, DDS is poised to provide safe oral and IV sedation from our state-of-the-art dentist office in Cerritos, CA. To schedule your appointment or consultation with Dr. Hofkes, contact us today. We proudly serve patients of all ages from Cerritos, Lakewood, Long Beach, Buena Park, and all surrounding communities.