Sedation and Anaesthetics
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Intravenous Sedation (IV)
For some patients, particularly those that suffer anxiety when visiting the dentist, it is sometimes necessary to administer sedative drugs before giving treatment. These sedatives are administered directly into the blood stream, in a procedure known as intravenous conscious sedation. This enables the patient to relax but also remain conscious during treatment. This means they can understand and respond to the dentist, which may be essential during certain procedures.
Sedatives induce a state of deep relaxation. This enables a patient to receive treatments that they would otherwise be too fearful to undergo. However, sedation does have some side effects, in particular, memory loss. Many patients can’t remember the treatment after it is finished and suffer amnesia (memory loss) during the time they were sedated. This is normal, and patients may think they were asleep during the procedure, although this is not the case; they just can’t remember it.
Intravenous just means that the sedative is administered directly into the vein. This involves a thin needle being inserted into the arm, or back of the hand, from which a plastic tube is connected. This is called a cannula, but is sometimes referred to as a “drip” in hospital environments. It is through this cannula that the sedative is fed into the blood stream throughout the dental procedure. Before IV sedation can take place, blood pressure needs to be taken and constantly monitored throughout the procedure. In some instances, where the patient is over 65, or has heart trouble, or the dental procedure is to be a long and lengthy one, it may be necessary to have an anaesthetist present to monitor the patient.
If you are undergoing IV sedation, it is important that you do not consume food four hours prior to the procedure and do not drink two hours before. After the treatment, it is also important that you don’t drive or conduct any physical activity for the rest of the day. It is also best avoid a heavy meal, as some patients may feel a little nauseated following sedation. It is advisable that patients undergoing sedation have somebody accompany them so they can be escorted home. It is also advisable that you have an adult remain with them until the effects of the sedation have completely worn off. It is important to rest for the remainder of the day and avoid alcohol, and if you experience any unusual symptoms to contact your dentist immediately.