What is Conscious Sedation Dentistry?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Conscious sedation dentistry is dental care practiced on patients under sedation. This type of dentistry is used for patients with dental anxiety, anxiety disorders, and other issues that make it hard for them to be fully comfortable while receiving treatment from a dentist. Practitioners of conscious sedation dentistry can use a variety of sedation techniques with their patients and receive special training in providing sedation and caring for patients under sedation so they can monitor patients in a safe environment while providing dental care.

Conscious sedation dentistry may be a good option for someone who has apprehension about the dentist office.
Conscious sedation dentistry may be a good option for someone who has apprehension about the dentist office.

Many people are anxious about going to the dentist and some dental clients are nervous about discussing dental anxiety. Being anxious at the dentist's, in addition to being uncomfortable, can also potentially pose some risks. An anxious patient does not tolerate procedures as well and could distract dental staff. In addition, people with severe anxieties might not be able to complete procedures, or could involuntarily kick or flail from stress, complicating dental procedures.

Nitrous oxide -- often called laughing gas -- can give patients a calming, sometimes euphoric feeling, and is commonly used during dental work such as root canals.
Nitrous oxide -- often called laughing gas -- can give patients a calming, sometimes euphoric feeling, and is commonly used during dental work such as root canals.

In conscious sedation dentistry, patients are given a small amount of sedative medication. The sedatives can be ingested orally before the appointment, inhaled under supervision at the office, or administered via intravenous drip. The patient will still be fully awake, but will feel more relaxed and comfortable. Depending on the sedative used, the patient may feel euphoric or happy. The stress reactions associated with dental phobias are suppressed, and the patient can sit through the procedure calmly.

Conscious sedation dentistry may be used for a variety of dental procedures.
Conscious sedation dentistry may be used for a variety of dental procedures.

Conscious sedation dentistry can be used for a variety of dental procedures where the patient would normally be awake. Young children sometimes benefit from mild sedation at the dentist's, because children are often anxious about the dentist and may refuse to comply with requests from the dentist, making treatment harder. In addition, keeping children relaxed at a dental office will help prevent the development of a dental phobia, reducing the risk of problems at the dentist's in the future.

People interested in conscious sedation dentistry can find listings for dentists offering this service in their area by asking for referrals, getting a list of practitioners from a professional organization, or simply using the phone book or an online resource to look up dentists. Before sedation is administered, a brief patient interview will be conducted to check for any risks and causes for concern such as a history of adverse reactions to sedatives. Once the dentist has confirmed the patient is a good candidate for conscious sedation dentistry, a sedation plan can be developed for the patient's appointment.

Conscious sedation dentistry is care performed on sedated patients.
Conscious sedation dentistry is care performed on sedated patients.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

Rundocuri

Thanks for sharing your story Talentryto. I am not a very good patient when I go for dental work. I always have this type of sedation, and it has helped me tremendously to get through these dreaded appointments. It's nice to see an article that addresses conscious sedation dentistry because it will hopefully get the word out about this option.

Talentryto
My sister used to work in a dental office as an assistant, and she would tell me how stressful it was when patients would be very stressed about their procedures. Then, her boss became certified as a conscious sedation dentist. The patients loved it, and the staff felt good about being able to perform procedures without their patients being in fear.
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