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The Four Go-To IV Sedation Medications for Dentists

December 13, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — legacydentistry @ 4:20 pm
a dentist smiling and holding up four fingers

Most people have heard about nitrous oxide or “laughing gas” for helping them relax while receiving dental care. However, your dentist might be able to offer you something a little stronger if necessary. With more options available today, you may be eligible for solutions such as IV sedation, which can be provided through many forms. Read on to learn about four of the most commonly used drugs for this medication and when it’s best to use them during your dental visit.


This solution is developed from a psychedelic drug known as phencyclidine, which is exceptionally helpful for alleviating pain. The effects usually kick in within a minute after being administered, so you can expect to feel relaxed and even euphoric rather quickly. The dose only lasts about 5-10 minutes, so your dentist will need to administer it regularly to ensure you remain comfortable. This medication is usually reserved for patients older than 16.


Another fast-acting solution, you can generally start to feel the effects of propofol within 90-100 seconds. Since the human body often processes this medication quickly, your dental team will need to give you a periodic dose throughout your procedure. Additionally, you can expect to recover from the effects shortly after completing your appointment due to the body’s ability to metabolize this drug efficiently. Propofol is safe for both adults and children alike.


Classed as a benzodiazepine, midazolam is very similar to other popular medications, including Xanax and Valium. This anti-anxiety agent is incredibly powerful and can help patients feel completely euphoric while undergoing extensive dental care. Midazolam kicks in quickly, dissipates within 2-3 minutes, and has no negative effects on the heart or lungs, making it completely safe even for children.


Dexmedetomidine is quite potent and can typically cause patients to feel as though they’ve fallen asleep while technically remaining awake during their treatment. You’ll still be able to respond to simple commands and questions from your dentist. This solution can impact your breathing and heart rate, so your team will be sure to only administer small doses at a time during your procedure.

When Should IV Sedation Be Used?

In many cases, this treatment can be beneficial for:

  • Patients who struggle with intense dental phobia or anxiety
  • Patients who require extensive dental procedures
  • Those who struggle sitting still in the dentist’s chair
  • Those who typically experience a strong gag reflex

Even if you aren’t sure if IV sedation would be beneficial to you, feel free to consult your dentist about any concerns you might have. They’ll be happy to discuss the details of the treatment and help you determine if this option is viable for you—that way you can be as comfortable as possible throughout your procedure!

About the Author

Dr. Tony D. Nguyen is incredibly passionate about helping patients achieve their dream smiles in the most comfortable way possible. He’s undergone countless hours of continuing education every year to refine his expertise and offers a wide range of services, including sedation dentistry. If you’d like to know more about IV sedation or want to schedule a visit, feel free to check out our website or call our practice at 972-723-1148.

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