Should You Invest in IV Sedation Training as a GP?

As millions of Americans experience a high degree of dental anxiety, more dentists are looking to provide sedation care beyond local or nitrous oxide.


Every patient is different, so every dental practitioner approaches their care on an individual basis. Most dentists administer some sort of anesthetic from local injections to referring out for deep sedation or general anesthesia, and these decisions are often made based on those differing patient needs.

General dentists may be content with the “fill and drill” objective to building a practice with a full schedule and limited procedures that require more time or money. However, with millions of Americans experiencing a high degree of dental fear and often avoiding routine oral care altogether, more dentists are providing sedation care beyond local or nitrous oxide.

Advances in medications and treatments have made oral conscious sedation combined with IV sedation an appealing investment for dentists interested in helping more fearful patients needing extensive care while increasing the production levels of their practice.

The Investment of IV Sedation

IV sedation training and certification qualifies dentists to treat patients who may need extensive care and pain management, especially for procedures such as extractions, restorations, and endodontics. This continuing education is designed to give dentists the knowledge, clinical skills and confidence to evaluate patients for safe and effective administration of parenteral sedation in a dental setting.

It's no surprise that due to the elevated level of care involved and shifting regulatory guidelines around sedation dentistry in general, the investment of time and money for integrating IV sedation into a dental practice is not insignificant. However, it’s not insurmountable.

Sedation regulations vary by both state and methods of sedation, and these guidelines are constantly changing so it’s important to determine what you need based on where you practice. Many of the state regulatory bodies require IV certification to be issued by a CODA-certified institution via a CODA-accredited training program.

IV sedation courses are offered by a variety of organizations and consist of didactic and clinical formats. Many of these programs require multiple weekends or one long training of 10-14 days, making the time investment for most dentists prohibitive when they lose so much time away from patients.

This makes IV training programs like DOCS Education’s so popular because the majority of didactic training is conducted online through home-study and the live patient clinical session is confined to a single four-day weekend.

The financial investment can vary greatly depending on the training program, the quality of instructors and accreditation, and the content provided. Comprehensive courses such as DOCS’ includes the critical emergency training required (ACLS), extensive materials, and full support from registration to permit. Some sedation training programs also include financing opportunities.

There is additional equipment needed for IV administration and it’s vital to have your team trained accordingly. Contact your malpractice insurance carrier for the specifics of your situation, but carriers generally will not raise premiums for performing IV sedation.

The Payoff of Adding IV to GP Dentistry

Dr. Travis Watson, DMD talks about DOCS Educations

As with any major expenditures, it’s important to evaluate and project the return on your investment. While the bottom line is a major factor, the impact of IV sedation will be both fiscal and personal. Considerations include:

  • Patients
  • Productivity
  • Profile

There is a large segment of the population that would benefit from IV sedation in order to receive the help they need with their oral health. To name a few, patients with high anxiety, dental fear, difficulty becoming numb, and those who are prone to gagging. Like other forms of sedation dentistry, IV sedation relaxes the patient and drastically reduces pain and anxiety throughout the procedure.

With IV medications, the dentist has greater control of the amount administered and is able to adjust the level of sedation as needed.

Because the patient is completely relaxed, more high-quality dentistry can be accomplished in less time leading to increased productivity.

“I tell every single person (dentist) the single most relevant thing they can do in their practice … is to become certified in IV sedation,” says Dr. Nilo Hernandez, DDS, a Naples, FL dentist and DOCS graduate who integrated IV sedation into his practice in 2018. “The money is secondary but handle the fear and they’ll get more patients.”

In addition to generating more income by offering a wider range of services, dentists certified in IV sedation can see patients who may otherwise be referred out. This puts these doctors in higher demand and elevates their professional profile in the community. In fact, many of the top-producing dentists in the country are IV-trained.

In Closing

While IV sedation may be a viable path to building a dental practice, it is not a shortcut to profit. Dentists who invest in IV sedation will level up by continuing their clinical education, improving patient selection, as well as emergency preparedness. 

“Because regulations are continuing to change in states across the country, studying for and obtaining an IV sedation certification could be the most important and productive decision for a practicing dentist,” says Dr. Michael Silverman, DMD and CEO of DOCS Education.

For more information, visit IV Sedation Certification by DOCS Education. You can also schedule a complimentary consultation with our Clinical Program Manager, Lindsay Olsen, or email us at [email protected]