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Oral vs. IV Sedation

Each dental patient is different, and each has unique needs. If you are considering dental sedation, you have multiple options; here are a few things you should know about oral sedation and IV sedation as explained by our Toronto dental care team.

What is dental sedation?

Dental sedation involves having a dental procedure performed while the patient is under some form of sedation.

In dentistry, we typically use oral sedation, IV sedation, or anesthesia, depending on the patient in question and their unique needs.

Why might I need dental sedation?

Dental sedation is sometimes recommended to help patients who experience dental anxiety, sensitivity to pain, gag reflex, and other issues during dental procedures. Dental anxiety is a common condition in which a patient is extremely nervous or afraid of having a dental procedure.

While these feelings are completely understandable, it's important to address them rather than avoid seeking necessary dental care. Avoiding needed dental treatment can lead to more serious oral health issues in the future.

What is oral sedation?

Oral sedation is sedative medicine that is taken by mouth. It typically comes in the form of a liquid or a pill, and patients can administer the sedation themselves.

Because oral sedatives provide conscious sedation, you will feel relaxed and may even nod off during your procedure, but you will not be asleep. Oral sedatives do not aim to incapacitate, but rather to reduce stress and increase relaxation to make the experience more comfortable.

Oral sedatives are a great choice for patients who have a fear of needles, as an alternative to IV sedation. It’s also a good choice for patients who feel nervous in the days leading up to their procedure, as it can also be taken the night before, and then again an hour before the procedure.

What is IV sedation?

IV sedation is sedative medicine administered directly into the bloodstream intravenously (by IV). This form of sedation works very quickly and produces conscious sedation.

IV sedation and general anesthesia are both administered via IV, but the two terms do not mean the same thing.

IV sedation refers to any type of sedation administered by an IV, and general anesthesia is the deepest form of sedation, making the patient completely unconscious.

Please keep in mind that whether you choose oral or IV sedation, you will require the assistance of a trusted friend or family member to drive you to and from your appointment, as the medication takes some time to wear off. Please have an adult accompany you for the rest of the day after your appointment for your own safety.

What is general anesthesia? 

A patient is rendered unconscious by general anesthesia. Anesthesia is usually recommended for patients who have limited comprehension, serious behavioural issues, and/or high pain sensitivity.

How do I know which one is right for me?

Well before your appointment, you and your dentist will discuss your sedation options, and choose the one that’s right for your specific needs.

If you think you could benefit from IV or oral sedation during your next dental procedure, please contact our office to book a consultation. 

Nervous about visiting the dentist? We can help.

Our dentists can take the stress out of your next appointment with a range of sleep and sedation dentistry options.

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