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General & Restorative Dentistry

Horfield Dental Care, 525 Gloucester Road, Bristol, BS7 8UG


Intravenous Sedation Info

What is intravenous sedation?

Intravenous sedation is a form of anxiety control which makes dental treatment more pleasant for the patient. It is effective, predictable and very safe.

Intravenous sedation involves giving you an injection of a sedative drug through a plastic tube into a vein in your hand or arm. It is not a general anaesthetic that puts you to sleep. The medication puts you into a state of deep relaxation.

Once sedated, your dental treatment can be started.  Most patients find they do not remember anything about their treatment, but it doesn’t affect any of your memory prior to the sedative being given.

Following the sedation, you will need to stay at the practice until the dental team are satisfied that you are safe to be accompanied home by a responsible escort.

What are the benefits – why should I have sedation?

Sedation can help you cope with dental treatment and reduce your anxiety. Some people who do not feel anxious about dental treatment may choose to have sedation for uncomfortable procedures such as extraction.

What are the risks?

The sedative medication used can slow down your breathing. We overcome this by monitoring you closely and giving you some oxygen via your nose if needed. Bruising of your hand or arm is also possible after the injection, but this usually only lasts a few days. We always discuss all the risks when you sign the consent form at the assessment appointment.

What is a consent form?

We involve you in all the decisions about your treatment. If you decide to go ahead with the procedure and sedation, you will be asked to sign a consent form. This consent form confirms that you agree to the have the procedure and understand what it involves.

Who will sedate me?

You will be sedated by a dentist specially trained in conscious sedation. The dentist will be assisted by a dental nurse who has also undergone specific training in sedation.

How long will I be drowsy?

You can feel drowsy following the appointment. This drowsiness usually lasts no more than 8 hours. It is normal for some people to sleep heavily following sedation. Very rarely some patients will feel drowsy the following day.

What happens during the sedation?

The dentist will explain the treatment and check you know what will be done, and they may ask you to reconfirm the consent form. You will have your blood pressure recorded and a little monitoring sensor will be placed on your finger. You will be asked to lie back in the dental chair and then have a small plastic tube, called a cannula, placed into a vein in your arm or hand. The dentist will then give the sedation medication through the little tube. The dental team then monitor you throughout the procedure.

What happens after the procedure?

At the end of the treatment you will start to recover from the sedation. We will bring in your escort to keep you company. You will still feel sleepy and many people can feel a little unbalance and forgetful. For these reasons you will not be able to leave until the dental team are satisfied that you are ready to go home. Most people spend about 30 minutes recovering. The plastic tube needs to stay in your hand until you are ready to go home, at which point it will be removed.

Am I suitable for intravenous sedation?

At Horfield Dental Care we only perform sedation on adults (over 18). Some medical conditions may mean you are not able to have sedation in the dental surgery and will require referral to a dental hospital. This will be assessed for each patient prior to planning future appointments. This is to ensure all sedation is carried out safely.

What are the alternatives?

The alternatives to intravenous sedation are treatment with a local anaesthetic (with no sedation) or referral to a hospital for inhalation sedation or a general anaesthetic.

What to do before your appointment on the day of sedation treatment:

  • ALL PATIENTS MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY A RESPONSIBLE ADULT. This adult is required to stay throughout the entire appointment in the waiting area, take you home and stay with you for 24 hours following the sedation.
  • DO continue to take all routine medicines unless the dentist has advised you otherwise.
  • DO tell the dentist if you have had to see the doctor or attend hospital since your appointment was made.
  • DO give details of any medicines, tablets or pills which you are taking which you have not previously told us about.
  • DO inform the dentist if you might be pregnant or are breast feeding.
  • DO come to the appointment by car or taxi. You WILL NOT be able to drive yourself home.
  • DO wear flat shoes to the appointment, as you may be unsteady following sedation.
  • DO wear loose clothing which allows access to your arm.
  • DO NOT have a heavy meal on the day of the appointment. But there is no need for you to starve, in fact we want you to have a light meal.
  • DO NOT drink any alcohol or take any recreational drugs on the same day of treatment. We will not sedate you if you have.
  • DO NOT bring anyone with you other than a responsible adult who will take you home. It is not appropriate for you to look after young children or vulnerable adults for 24 hours following sedation. You should make arrangements for the care of any dependants.
  • DO NOT wear nail varnish as this can affect the readings of the monitoring equipment.
  • DO NOT drive any vehicle; operate machinery; use cookers, kettles, or irons; or make any business decisions on the same day as your treatment. This is because your judgement and reflexes may have been affected.
  • DO NOT return to work on the day of the sedation. Check with your employer if you need more than the one day off.

Please arrive early for your appointment. Appointments are booked for a set time. If you arrive after the appointment time you will likely have to be rebooked onto a different day.

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