Experts estimate that up to 15 percent of American adults suffer from dental anxiety and phobia, which means that as many as 40 million people are missing the dental care they need. To combat the problem, some people with dental phobia decide to have their treatment while sedated, and there are various ways that a dentist can manage this, including IV anesthesia. If you have dental anxiety, find out how IV anesthesia can help, and learn more about what to expect from the process with the following facts.
You probably won't remember the experience
During IV sedation, your dentist will administer a special anesthetic drug that will induce a state of deep relaxation. You will remain fully awake during the procedure, despite the fact that some people refer to this method as sleep dentistry, and you will also be able to respond to any instructions that your dentist gives you. However, when the anesthetic wears off, you probably won't remember much about the experience.
The drugs that dentists use for IV sedation cause partial or total memory loss. This memory loss will start from the moment the dentist gives you the drug via an intravenous injection until the point where the medication wears off. This is one of the reasons that IV anesthesia is popular with people who have dental anxiety, as the idea that you forget the entire process is sometimes quite appealing.
Your dentist will still administer a local anesthetic
Some people mistakenly believe that an IV anesthetic replaces the local anesthetic that the dentist normally uses. For many people, this belief stems from confusion between the different types of anesthetic available.
If you go into hospital for a major operation, you may undergo a general anesthetic. With a general anesthetic, the patient is unconscious and unable to feel anything, but this type of procedure carries certain risks. The drugs used depress the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, which is dangerous for some patients. As such, dentists rarely use general anesthesia.
An IV anesthetic does not cause unconsciousness and does not affect these key systems in the body in the same way. However, an IV anesthetic also doesn't affect the way you feel pain, and if a dentist extracted a tooth or carried out a filling, you would still feel the pain. As such, when you have an IV anesthetic, the dentist will still administer a local anesthetic for the pain.
Your dentist can help you if you have a fear of needles
Some people with dental anxiety also have a fear of needles. As such, the idea that a dentist will inject an anesthetic is often just as stressful as the thought of any treatment. However, experienced dentists have other ways to help combat this anxiety.
Some people with a fear of needles may need laughing gas to help them relax enough for the dentist to administer the IV anesthetic. Laughing gas (nitrous oxide) is also an anxiolytic, which means the drug can effectively ease anxiety and stress. As such, some people benefit from a small intake of laughing gas before the dentist uses an IV injection.
Similarly, some people are less anxious if they can't feel the scratch or sting that occurs when the dentist first inserts a needle. To combat this, your dentist can apply an analgesic gel to the back of your hand before he or she administers the anesthetic. This gel will numb the skin, and you won't feel the needle.
You need special training to administer IV anesthesia
While IV anesthesia is generally very safe, all dentists that carry out this type of procedure in the United States must still undergo special training. The American Dental Association established guidelines about IV anesthesia in 2007, and all dentists must complete a relevant training program. All dentists must pass a comprehensive examination at the end of their training before they can administer anesthesia.
Dentists must also hold a sedation license to carry out IV anesthesia. Each state board of dentistry issues these licenses, and dentists must continue to undergo further training and education if they want to keep their sedation license.
IV anesthesia is an effective way to have dental treatment if you suffer from dental phobia or anxiety. Talk to a local dentist like Richard M Holmes DMD PA for more information and advice about how this treatment could help you.