Fear of the dentist isn’t just something that affects children. Many people purposely delay or avoid getting dental treatment due to anxiety or dental phobia, which can cause small dental issues to become invasive and costly dental problems. IV sedation dentistry allows anxious patients to undergo dental treatment without stress, for a more calm and comfortable experience.


What is Dental Sedation?

Dental sedation allows your dentist to perform almost any dental procedure efficiently and quickly, while you calmly relax in the dental chair.

A small, controlled dose of anaesthetic is given intravenously before surgery, and unlike general anaesthesia, it will not knock you out but only make you feel lightheaded and sleepy. At this level of sedation, you will be able to respond to verbal commands and questions, but you will not feel anxious. After the anaesthesia wears off, you will have no memory of the dental procedure.


Why Use Dental Sedation?

Although most dental procedures can be performed with local anaesthesia, IV sedation can be an excellent complementary anaesthetic procedure to facilitate more effective dental treatment and make you feel more comfortable.

For example, in cases where you feel anxious, cannot stay still in the chair, have complex dental issues, a bad gag reflex, dislike the sights, sounds and smells of the dental surgery or have sensitive teeth, IV sedation may be a good option.

Dental Patient

Is Dental Sedation Safe?

As with any anaesthetic procedure, there is an element of risk involved.  However, IV sedation is controlled by a professional anaesthesiologist to monitor and maintain the ideal level of consciousness without dropping into deep sedation, which would require assisted breathing.

This makes IV sedation a safer option than a general anaesthetic.

Some patients may be ineligible to receive IV sedation, including people who are obese or who have obstructive sleep apnea, which causes the airways to close. If you have either of these conditions, it is important to notify your dentist when discussing IV sedation.


Dental Sedation Guidelines

The Australian Dental Association and other regulatory bodies have created a set of dental sedation guidelines for dentists and anaesthesiologists who practice IV sedation dentistry. These guidelines are designed to protect both patients and dentists to create a safe environment for dental treatment under sedation. These dental sedation guidelines include:

  • An assessment of the patient to ensure they are an appropriate candidate for IV sedation, including medical history and potential risk factors. At this time, patients should also be informed of the procedure, recovery period and discharge process, to obtain informed consent.
  • An evaluation of the anaesthetic practitioner to ensure that they have sufficient knowledge of the drug, and detect any complications, monitor and manage the patient’s level of sedation and keep appropriate records. Only a registered anaesthetist, dentist, or medical practitioner who has completed the relevant ANZCA-approved training is qualified to administer IV sedation.
  • Facilities must be equipped with the appropriate equipment to deal with a cardiopulmonary emergency such as oxygen supply, ventilation bag, drugs needed for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and a defibrillator.
  • Drug monitoring and use of titrated doses to reduce the risk of unintended full anaesthesia. A variety of sedative drugs may be used, but only by a trained practitioner.
  • Patient recovery from anaesthesia should be closely monitored in a room equipped with resuscitation equipment, and the patient may only be discharged after the effects of the sedation have worn off completely. It is recommended that patients have someone drive them home.


Final Thoughts

IV sedation can help you to feel comfortable and relaxed during any procedure, to ensure that you receive the dental treatment you need for good oral health and a beautiful smile. So don’t put off visiting the dentist any longer, call Southern Smiles on (02) 8503 9902 to talk to our friendly staff about how IV sedation dentistry can help you get the dental care you deserve.

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