Intravenous sedatives are directly controlled by the dentist like nitrous oxide is, but they are fast acting. By directly connecting to a vein, the sedative can be administered right inside the bloodstream, allowing it to work quickly. The dentist can adjust the levels as necessary to keep the patient calm and relaxed, while maintaining as much coherence as needed.
Intravenous, or IV, sedatives are the strongest and most effective of the bunch without getting into general anesthesia, which puts you into a deep sleep. IV sedatives are directly connected to a vein and work quickly. By having a direct connection, the dentist can easily adjust the level of sedation on the fly, balancing it out so that you are completely relaxed but still conscious. Remaining conscious is important as we may need to ask you some questions or give you a direction while operating on your teeth.
Like the other forms of sedation, IV sedatives calm and relax the patient. Many people have a strong fear of the dentist, but we want you to feel comfortable. Sedatives in general give the patient a higher pain threshold (meaning, they’re unlikely to feel anything up to a certain extent), keep patients still so they are not fidgeting during a procedure, and even reduce the onset of a gag reflex. Sometimes they are used even in people totally comfortable already; these situations usually involve a long procedure where the patient needs to remain still for a long period of time.
Local anesthetics will still be administered to an operation site as these reduce the feeling in a concentrated area. IV sedation may increase the overall pain threshold, but local anesthetics can practically eliminate feeling at the operation site, depending on the intensity of work being performed.