Oral sedation is where the patient is given a sedative-hypnotic drug one hour before their dental appointment. In dentistry, the most commonly prescribed drugs for anxiety belong to the “benzodiazepine” family. You have probably heard of them by their trade names — for example, Valium, Halcion, Xanax, or Ativan. Benzodiapines have a sedative effect that makes it a requirement for patients to have an escort to and from their dental appointment. Oral sedation works well for patients that have a mild level of fear and anxiety. One problem associated with oral sedation is that it can be a bit of a hit-and-miss affair. Basically, you don’t know how well the drug will be absorbed from the stomach. The inability to customize (titrate) the amount of drug to give each patient minimizes the advantages of oral sedation.
IV sedation is when sedative-hypnotic and/or opioids (pain medication) drugs are administered into the blood system. The two most common drugs used are Versed and Propofol (anti-anxiety and hypnotic). The onset of sedation is within 20-30 seconds; however the sedation can lasts for many hours and therefore it is a requirement for patients to have an escort from their dental appointment. IV sedation works well for patients as it is the only form of sedation that can be customized (titrated) for each patient.