Dental phobics come in every shape and size. Some true dental phobics cannot bring themselves to complete any dental work because of this fear. For these people, IV sedation is a tool that enables them to get back in the dental chair and make themselves a priority.
IV -- intravenous, or in the vein. This is often referred to as sleep dentistry. This is a common misnomer, as sleep dentistry brings to mind thoughts of being put to sleep. In fact, this is not the case. You will remain conscious during IV sedation. You will be able to understand and respond to any requests from your dentist.
IV sedation is perfect for the dental phobic because of the side effects that accompany this type of sedative. This process produces partial or even full memory loss (amnesia of the dental experience) in the patient.
This works really well for both the dentist and the patient. As the patient, you will be aware of what is happening on a purely detached level. You can answer questions, accommodate requests and generally do what you're told. Simultaneously, the influx of drugs in your arm (or hand) will give you a peaceful feeling. Basically, you won't be bothered in the least by any poking or prodding. As a bonus -- you'll remember virtually nothing!
This is nice for your dentist as well. He or she will be able to monitor your pulse and oxygen levels with a handy-dandy "pulse oximeter." The dental team will be able to monitor any ill effects the drug may have on your Central Nervous System. A blood pressure machine is also monitored to ensure your safety.
The pharmaceuticals utilized for IV sedation are NOT narcotics. They do not dull your senses. The drug belongs in the benzodiazepine (benzos) family, which is nothing more than an anti-anxiety sedative. As this will not prevent pain, local anesthetic will still be necessary before your procedure. Since people who choose this kind of sedation are likely afraid of the needle, local can easily be administered once the IV drug has taken affect.
Some dentists may add in a strong painkiller, such as Morphine and Demerol, to prevent discomfort and post-op pain.
If this sounds great to you and you'd like to forget every dental experience, it is important to realize the advantages and disadvantages of IV sedation.
Ask your dentist to explain all of your options. Pay close attention to your after-care instructions, as you will want to be aware of any side effects that might be the result of the IV sedative.