Many types of dental procedures require some level of sedation, but people who have severe dental phobias might be able to request sedation for procedures as simple as a routine tooth cleaning. Because of the all the innovations made in the dental industry, just because a patient is sedated doesn’t mean that he or she necessarily has to be put completely to sleep. Nowadays, there is something known as conscious sedation, and more and more dentists are beginning to utilize it in their practices.
What Is Conscious Sedation?
Conscious sedation is exactly what its name implies: sedation that still allows the patient to be conscious and alert of his or her surroundings. Basically, what conscious sedation does is calm and relax the patient so that the dental procedure is more bearable. Conscious sedation is oftentimes used on patients who experience severe dental phobias and have high levels of anxiety when undergoing even the simplest of procedures at the dentist’s office. It is also oftentimes employed on children since many children are not only afraid of the dentist but are also finicky as well and have a difficult time sitting still for the extended periods of time that some dental procedures require. When a patient is consciously sedated, he or she is still able to respond to questions and might merely feel extremely sleepy and relaxed.
Benefits of Conscious Sedation
There are numerous benefits associated with conscious sedation. First of all, it’s considered much safer than putting a patient to sleep entirely since the dosages used to consciously sedate a patient are much less than those that put them to sleep entirely. Also, conscious sedation is considered safe for children, which makes it much easier for dentists to provide children with the dental services that they need. Overall, conscious sedation is beneficial to both the patient and the dentist since the dental process will be more bearable for the patient and easier for the dentist since he or she will be working with a more compliant patient.
Types of Conscious Sedation
Numerous types of conscious sedation are employed in dentistry, and the type that a dentist administers to a patient depends greatly upon whether the patient requires minimal sedation, moderate sedation or deep sedation. In cases where the patient needs to be put to sleep entirely, the dentist foregoes conscious sedation and goes straight for general anesthesia.
Inhaled sedation is the type of conscious sedation that requires the patient to breathe in nitrous oxide mixed with oxygen. A mask is placed over the nose and by breathing in the nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas,” the patient begins to gradually relax. This is among the most minimal types of conscious sedation. In fact, it’s so minimal that patients are usually able to drive themselves home after receiving it.
Another type of conscious sedation is oral sedation. Oral sedation usually consists of taking a pill approximately an hour before the dental procedure is to be performed. It makes the patient drowsy, although he or she will still be conscious. This is the most common type of conscious sedation used in dentistry, and larger doses can be given to achieve a more moderate rate of sedation. Although some people can actually become drowsy enough to fall asleep after receiving oral sedation, they can usually be awaken very easily.
This type of sedation is works very quickly since the liquid used to sedate patients is administered through an IV. Dentists usually turn to this method of conscious sedation when they need to constantly control the patient’s amount of sedation. IV sedation makes it so that the dentist can continually adjust the amount of sedation liquid given to the patient to keep him or her at the appropriate rate of sedation.
Deep sedation is the highest level of conscious sedation, and a variety of medicines, both pill and liquid forms, can be used to achieve this level of sedation. It’s not uncommon for patients to be constantly on the verge of falling asleep during deep sedation, but they are still conscious.
Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry. “Conscious sedation in the 21st century.” Retrieved on March 10, 2016, from http://jocpd.org/doi/abs/10.17796/jcpd.26.2.bm427128832m1532.
American Dental Association. “Guidelines for the use of sedation and general anesthesia by dentists.” Retrieved on March 10, 2016, from http://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/About%20the%20ADA/Files/anesthesia_use_guidelines.pdf?la=en.
Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry
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