Oral Sedation Vs. Iv Sedation: What Is The Better Option For Me?

Oral Sedation Vs. Iv Sedation: What Is The Better Option For Me?

December 14, 2018

oral sedation vs iv sedation at dentistVisiting a dental office can be one of the most difficult things to motivate ones-self to do. The fear is real. You’re not alone in resisting the dental chair! Dental fear “is a normal emotional reaction” and a serious emotional response for 3 out of every 4 people. Although there is danger in this slippery slope of dental phobias: the most uncomfortable and costly dental visits come to those who avoid the dentist year after year… after year.

Here at Bell Harbour Dental and Perioinnovations we want to protect, preserve and build back that beautiful smile that we believe everyone has. Oral and IV sedation are two of the options we offer to support people with fear and anxiety of the dentist. Whether you need a cleaning or some fillings, maybe your wisdom teeth are starting to bother you, perhaps you’re even looking for a full mouth restoration and a brand new smile: our doctors are specially trained in a variety of techniques to make your visit to our office a breeze. Literally. Many of our patients are so comfortable here that we have to wake them up at the end of their appointments!

Okay, I’ll be honest; these are most often the patients that choose to receive either oral or IV sedation during their visits.

Are you wondering what the difference between the two is and what the best option is for you? Well, read on, this blog was written for you!

Oral Sedation

Oral Sedation refers to the use of sedative drugs that are taken in the form of pills. It is used to reduce fear and anxiety during patients’ visits to the dentist. Although there are a few different oral sedation drugs available here in the office we most commonly use either lorazepam or triazolam.

Both Dr. Pawlowski & Dr. McAninley are licensed and trained to administer oral sedation.


The main advantage to oral sedation is its cost. Aside from meditation it’s probably the cheapest way to reduce anxiety and fear in the dental chair!

It is a great option for those who need assisted comfort regularly at their dental appointments. Once you know how it works for you oral sedation is very effective for simple dental procedures like cleanings, cavities, root canals, etc.


Oral sedation drugs take around 40 minutes to 1 hour to kick in. The amount of time isn’t exact and you need to come in early for your appointment to accommodate for this extra time.

This type of sedation is not readily reversible. In other words the pills not only take time to kick in, they also take time to come wear off.

When administered, the initial doses are based on averages and are standardized. The drugs don’t work as effectively for some people as they do for others and those patients may require more pills to feel the effect. Taking more oral sedation drugs in that moment is unsafe and illegal. Having come thus far, we’re left with two less-favorable courses of action: Come back another time and try a stronger dose, wasting time and the expense of the first attempt. 2. Proceed with the treatment without adequate sedation.

Iv Sedation

Rather than receiving the medication in the form of a pill, during IV sedation the sedative is administered directly into the vein. To facilitate this, the doctor places an IV catheter at the start of the procedure. Medications are then given through the IV port painlessly. It brings the patient to a semi-conscious state where they are “asleep” yet simultaneously still conscious enough to respond to and communicate with the dentist. IV sedation works great for patients dealing with severe levels of anxiety. It is recommended for longer and more complex oral surgery procedures. Many people experience amnesia and are happy to wake up at the end of a complex procedure remembering very little, or none of it at all!

The training and educational requirements to perform IV sedation are extremely extensive. Here in Washington once they have received their certification dental professionals offering IV sedation are required to be re-tested every 2 years. Dr. Pawlowski has been performing and offering IV sedation to his patients for over 25 years!


The effect is precise and immediate; the drug enters directly into the bloodstream.

It is stronger than oral sedation or inhalation sedation (eg. nitrous oxide).

It is reversible. We have medications to reverse its influence and they take effect nearly instantaneously.

You’re able to sleep through your appointments and through complex operations while staying in a semi-awake state where you can cooperate. If you wake up too quickly from the sedation we are able to administer a little more sedative to help you go back to sleep.

Some people require more drugs than others in order to become properly relaxed. This can never be predicted with oral sedation. With IV sedation we are able to “titrate to effect,” meaning we tailor the amount of sedative that is used specific to each patient. This achieves more predictable outcomes and reduces the risk of complications and side effects.

It is the safest form of sedation. Patients are monitored with electrocardiographs and other automated monitoring devices the entire time.


Depending on insurance coverage, IV sedation is usually 3 to 4 times more expensive than oral sedation. Although our rates for IV sedation here at Bell Harbour Dental are extremely low and our office manager is quick to say that “we should be charging more!” …In an effort to make this option more accessible to you, I promise, we won’t raise the cost anytime soon!

Remember, our goal is to make staying ahead on your dental health as comfortable of an experience as possible. Come and visit us or give us a call and together we will discuss which sedation option best suits your dental needs.

Bell Harbour Dental is a family owned, patient-first dental practice located in Belltown. Check us on out Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram, or contact us today and boost your dental health!

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