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Root Canal With IV Sedation failed...tiny veins



Junior member
Jul 8, 2016
After months of preparing myself for my double root canal on opposite sides of my mouth, the day had finally come today. I was a mixture of anxious, nervous, and even a bit excited. I had decided on IV Sedation for this because I suffer from anxiety just driving past my dentist, lol. I spent weeks on this website looking at the upsides of it as well!!!

When it came to have the IV needle in my forearm, I felt this sharp pain before my dentist simply shook his head and sighed. He pulled the needle out and interrogated me on the fact that I've never had any blood work done. He said my veins were tiny and the only needles they had were huge and just didn't work. His assistant was much more gentle and elaborated that it was going to be okay and she would find a good vein.

My heart on the monitor beeped like crazy as I got stabbed on my left hand 2x, left forearm, right hand 2x, right hand forearm about 3 times. They only had 1 needle size in stock and it was way too big for my veins. Eventually they just all gave up. I was a shivering, cold mess and felt awful. They did this for over an hour and it just felt hopeless. They then just offered oral pills, I really did not want this. I looked into both methods and oral pills don't even compare to how IV effects the body.

Basically, 2 pills later I'm drowsy but completely wide awake. It had been an hour and 30 mins passed at this point. I don't remember any of this but apparently they called my mom in and discussed that it just wasn't gonna work because of the tiny veins.

I was so ready to get this over with today. For months I put this off because of my anxiety and the time finally came and nothing worked for me and I can't stop crying and I don't know where to go next.

Has this happened before to anyone? Should I find another endo? What can I do about my tiny veins? They keep recommending general anesthesia now, what do you think? If they couldn't find any big veins how are they going to find one for general anesthesia?

I'm so sorry I'm a nervous wreck but I'm stressed out and I don't know what to do. :cry:
Wallflower - first, I'm so sorry this happened to you! I've never had IV sedation for dental work, but have had a couple of surgeries and some other medical procedures that required an IV. What I have learned is that it is evidently quite difficult to start an IV on me. Not good - especially because I'm terrified of needles. And, I have learned that, if I am in the hospital, I ask for the IV nurse right away. If you end up having general anesthesia for the root canals will it be done at a hospital? If so, they probably have someone who is the 'go-to' person for difficult IVs. They may also have child-sized (smaller) needles. Also, have you considered nitrous oxide (laughing gas)? Many people on here have found it to be extremely effective.

For what it's worth, I've had 4 root canals. They were all pain free. Before the first one I was so terrified I thought I was going to pass out. I could barely breathe and I couldn't even talk I was so anxious. The endo was super nice and helped me to get through it. The other 3 weren't 'easy', but at least I knew what to expect so I wasn't quite as anxious.
I'll answer this as I do IV sedation. Patience by the dentist, good technique, availability of small IV catheters and even butterflies(22ga and 25ga), and a little luck has worked every time but once for me over the years.
Having said that I would fault no one who missed. I prefer to spend more time looking and less sticking.
Not a doctor here but when my teenage daughter was hospitalized and needed an IV prior to general anesthesia and was a "difficult stick" they put her to sleep with gas first (NOT laughing gas - the other gasses for general anesthesia) THEN found the vein when she was asleep enough it wouldn't be painful. When she was awake they also used ultrasound and had a lighted device that made deeper veins easier to find I believe. Try not to lose hope - there's always a way in the right hands. Best of luck to you.
I've had the displeasure of having to place an IV in my daughter who doesn't have easy veins to find.