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Intravenous Conscious Sedation (aka “IV sedation”) is when a drug, usually of the anti-anxiety variety, is administered into the blood system during dental treatment. Our dentists at Texas Dental Center are certified to administer IV Sedation the help with more complex procedures.

What is IV sedation?

The IV sedation is generally used in more complex cases requiring oral surgery such as extractions and implants, your dentist will insert an IV needle into your hand or arm, and the needle will remain there to deliver medication continuously for the duration of the procedure.

The medications used in your IV can be a combination of drugs that reduce your nerves’ pain reception, induce a hypnotic state and memory loss, and relax your muscles. Your dentist may use a mix of benzodiazepines, Propofol, and/or opioids.


Conscious IV sedation is also known as “moderate sedation” because it allows the patient to retain a certain level of consciousness and responsiveness. Although your awareness will be depressed and you’ll have little, if any, memory of the procedure afterward, you’ll be able to respond to your dentist’s questions and commands during treatment without difficulty.

With conscious IV sedation you won’t need a breathing tube. The dentist will likely still numb your gums prior to the procedure, but by that point you’ll be relaxed enough not to care.

Aside from sleepiness, most patients do not experience any side effects from conscious IV sedation and recuperate within hours as the medication wears off.


General anesthesia, sometimes called deep sedation, is what most hospitals use when surgeries are performed. Dental offices often use the same sedation technique when it comes to intricate oral surgeries or high-anxiety patients. General anesthesia induces a deeper state of sedation than conscious sedation, and a breathing tube may be required to ensure the patient receives plenty of oxygen while his or her nervous system is depressed.

Dentists typically use the same types of drugs in general anesthesia as they do in conscious sedation, but in larger amounts to achieve a deeper level of anesthesia. Patients typically remember nothing of the procedure at all and are unable to interact with their environment during treatment.

Upon waking, some patients may experience sleepiness, nausea, dry mouth, or a sore throat. These side effects usually disappear quickly as the medication leaves the system.

IV sedation dentistry and what to expect

Many patients choose IV sedation for the memory loss and relief from anxiety it produces. The onset of IV sedation medications is rapid, and the patient often enters a twilight or sleep state within seconds. If you suffer from an overactive gag reflex, IV sedation may also be a great choice for you. Best of all, side effects are usually mild or practically non-existent.

Prior to your procedure, your dentist may tell you not to eat or drink for several hours. In addition, be sure to organize a ride home from the dentist’s office. You will not be allowed to leave on your own because you may experience some drowsiness that could affect your ability to drive!

When you leave, your dentist’s office will provide you with an after-care instruction sheet to help you take care of your oral surgery site for the next few days. Don’t hesitate to call us if you experience any complications such as excessive bleeding or severe pain.

Once you get home, get under the covers! Rest for the remainder of the day and get a good night’s sleep. Odds are you’ll feel as good as new in the morning.

Is IV sedation safe?

In the care of an experienced, licensed Texas Dental Center practitioner, IV sedation is safe for most people, including children. It is important, however, to answer your dentist’s questions about your health, medications you’re currently taking, and any alcohol or drug consumption with complete honesty.

IV sedation may not be the right option for you:

  • If you are pregnant
  • If you are allergic to benzodiazepines or any other drugs your dentist plans to administer
  • If you’re intoxicated on alcohol
  • If your central nervous system is depressed
  • If you have glaucoma, in some cases

Also be sure to let your dentist know if you suffer from sleep apnea, impaired kidney or liver function, or any respiratory (breathing) impairment.

If you or your dentist decide you’re not a good candidate for IV sedation, ask us about other types of sedation we offer at Texas Dental Center. Perhaps oral sedation or laughing gas would produce the anxiety-relieving effect you’re looking for!

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