Dental Sedation

Reducing dental anxiety

At The Exeter Dental Centre we take your experience of our care very seriously, we want you to have a pleasant time with us and we will do our utmost to ensure this happens. However, we do understand that some patients have a severe phobia of visiting the dentist, often related to a previous traumatic experience and can only consider treatment if sedation is an option. We go to great lengths to ensure all our dentistry is gentle and comfortable, investing in the latest materials, equipment and training to ensure optimum care, but for those who really would prefer a little more help, then we are pleased to offer the option of Intravenous Sedation.

We work with a wonderful team who oversee IV Sedation and we are always on hand to answer any questions you may have.

We promise we’re a friendly bunch and would love to help you get the treatment you need.

Are you a Candidate for IV sedation?

Do you have any of the following? If so then IV sedation could help you receive the dental treatment you require without anxiety, stress or fear.

  • Fear of dental treatment
  • History of traumatic dental experiences
  • Difficulty getting numb enough for treatment
  • Very sensitive gag reflex or difficulty opening your mouth
  • Extremely sensitive teeth
  • Complex dental problems; or a need for surgery
  • Have not received professional dental care in many years
  • Go from dentist to dentist, or doctors, to renew painkiller prescriptions for dental problems

Meet Dr Ruairi Cunnane

Dreamy Dentistry

Often referred to as sleep dentistry, sedation helps patients to fully relax. Consciousness is always maintained throughout the procedure so we are always able to communicate with you and you are able to understand and respond.

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Discover sedation and book your consultation with Dr Ruairi Cunnane

"A Big thank you to Ruairi & Rachael, words cannot express the relief I feel."


What is Intravenous Sedation?

Intravenous sedation involves giving you an injection of a sedative drug through a plastic tube into a vein either in your arm or the back of your hand. The sedative will relax you and make you feel sleepy during the treatment.

How will it make me feel?

You will feel very relaxed and sleepy but you will not be unconscious, you will be able to hear the dentist and nurse, understand and respond accordingly. You will feel a sense of detachment but you will not lose your protective reflexes such as the ability to cough.You will not be aware or anxious about what is going on and after the procedure you will have little recollection of the appointment.

What are the advantages and benefits?

Intravenous sedation reduces anxiety and stress, this allows you to cope better with dental treatment. Sometimes if you are worried about a particular treatment such as extractions you may prefer to have sedation. Amnesia is one of the side effects of conscious sedation. After treatment, if you have been sedated, you won’t remember the details of the dental procedure. You will feel that the procedure only lasted a few minutes, even if it has lasted for several hours. Certain invasive dental procedures such as gum surgery or multiple extractions can be a very traumatic experience, with treatment under sedation you will not remember and therefore find coming to the dentist in the future easier.

What are the disadvantages and risks?

You will need a small injection in your arm or back of your hand for us to administer the drugs, we can use topical anaesthetic if you would prefer this. Intravenous sedation is very low risk. The drugs used can slow down your breathing, we will overcome this by constantly monitoring your breathing and oxygen concentration in your blood, we will give you top up oxygen if needed. You may have a bruise where we place the injection on the back of your hand or arm but this will fade within a few days.

Gaining Consent

We want you to be fully informed about your treatment and the options available. If you want to go ahead with the sedation appointment we will ask you to sign a consent form.This confirms that you agree to have the treatment and fully understand what it involves. We will also go through pre and post-op instructions that you must follow precisely otherwise the sedation procedure will not be carried out.

What happens during the sedation appointment?

At the assessment appointment we will check your weight, height and calculate your BMI to ensure sedation is the right option for you. We will also record your blood pressure and oxygen saturation so that we know what is ‘normal’ for you.
Before the sedation is administered the nurse will take your blood pressure and oxygen saturation, we will check that you are happy to proceed and understand what will happen.
The sedative used is Midazolam, Midazolam is well suited for intravenous sedation as it brings about a general state of relaxation. The recovery period is smooth and quite short, with no feelings of nausea. This is given through a small plastic tube either in the back of your hand or the inside of the elbow, it is a very small needle that is used and the process is very quick and simple.
The Midazolam will be given slowly through this tube in small doses, we will monitor your responses to enable us to know if you are sedated enough, treatment will only proceed when you are completely relaxed and happy.
You will be monitored throughout by nurses who have specific and recognised training we also use medical monitoring equipment to record your pulse, blood pressure, blood oxygen levels and breathing rate during the treatment and in the recovery period.

What happens after I am sedated?

Local anaesthetic will be used to numb the specific area in your mouth. We will ensure you are as comfortable as possible during the procedure, at any point you can let us know if you want a break or feel any discomfort. At the end of the procedure you will be in recovery for 20-30 minutes, we will continue to monitor you, you will feel drowsy and sleepy, and we will discuss with your escort the post-operative care. Once we are happy that you are recovered fully and fit to discharge we will remove the plastic tube and you will be able to leave with your escort, you will want to go home and sleep off the effects of the drug.

How long will the sedation last?

The appointment length varies depending on what treatment you require, you will also remain in the surgery during recovery until we feel you are well enough to discharge, we will ensure you know roughly how long you will be in the surgery for at your assessment appointment. We sedate you to a safe level so that recovery is straight forward and quick.

How can I prepare for my appointment?

We will run through the pre-operative advice at your assessment appointment, we ask you to wear sensible footwear, loose clothing (so we can roll your sleeves up), to remove nail varnish and false nails.
You will require a responsible adult to escort you to your appointment and home again, this escort will have to wait in the waiting room whilst the procedure is carried out. This person needs to be able to look after you for the rest of the day, they must not have children or elderly or dependant relatives to look after.
Please have a light meal 2 hours before your appointment, if you are nervous it is important to have something substantial to eat as your body will use a lot of energy. Do not drink alcohol or take recreational drugs 24 hours prior to your appointment.
If your medicines change we need to know, please take all medicines as prescribed unless directed otherwise.
If you have children you will have to arrange someone other than your escort to look after them, please do not bring them to the appointment.
If you develop a cold, feel unwell or think you may be pregnant please call the practice for advice.