Serving all of Central and Western Montana ~ Located in Missoula

Sedation Dentistry

IV Conscious Sedation

If you experience fear or anxiety when going to the dentist, you are not alone.  Far too many people let their fear of the dentist prevent them from getting dental care.  IV sedation dentistry is a safe and effective technique which allows you to have your dental treatment while in a state of complete relaxation, without pain, anxiety, or fear.  IV sedation is also very beneficial for patients who have a gag reflux or ergonomic issues, such a vertigo, which make dentistry difficult to accomplish comfortably

IV conscious sedation (also known as “twilight sedation”) is a very controlled sedation done by intravenous drip In the arm with a sedative drug or combination of drugs. This is the most controllable technique, as it can quickly and easily be adjusted to the patient's body type, tolerance levels, and depth of sedation desired, as all patients respond to medications differently. This technique produces the deepest sedation and relaxation. Even though patients are kept responsive, they have very little, if any, memory of the experience. Although the procedure and drugs are very safe, the patient's blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen level, breathing, and heart electrical activity (EKG) are monitored as part of our safe standard of care. Patients quickly recover and walk out of the office with very little awareness of the time spent in the dental procedure. Dental patients must be escorted from the office by a responsible party after IV sedation, are restricted to limited activities, and may not drive for the rest of the day.

Questions and Answers:

Question: Who is a candidate for IV conscious sedation?

Answer: Any patient who is has anxiety related to dental treatment, or struggles with a gag reflex during dental treatment.  IV sedation is also commonly elected for surgical procedures, which also offers the benefit of allowing administration of other drugs during the procedure to help control post-operative pain and swelling.


Question:  Will I still need to be numb?

Answer:    Yes.  IV sedation is only used to induce a deep state of relaxation, unlike general anesthesia, in which a patient is completely asleep.  You will still receive a local anesthetic to ensure that you treatment is completely painless.


Question:  How is IV sedation different than oral sedation (taking a pill)?

Answer: Although oral sedation can be successful in some patients, by in large it is relatively unpredictable (because all patients digest and respond differently to oral medications), and can even be unsafe for these reasons.  Unlike oral sedation, use of an IV allows the provider to administer an ideal amount of medication to achieve the desired result, with the ability to quickly and safely adjust your state of relaxation, using a combination of fast acting medications.  The IV also allows administration of several other medications to make the patient more comfortable after the appointment.  IV access also allows quick administration medications in the case of an emergency, especially with more medically compromised patients. 


Question: How is IV Sedation different than Nitous Oxide (Laughing Gas)?

Answer: Nitrous Oxide is most predictably used for treatment of children.  Similar to oral sedation, nitrous oxide can unpredictable or inadaquate, and can even be distracting when used for treating for adult patients.  For these reasons, the IV route is our preferred method for providing patients with sedation, safely and effectively.