How Does Conscious Sedation Work At The Dentist's Office?

15 September 2022
 Categories: Dentist, Blog


Sedation dentistry can be incredibly valuable for patients with anxiety, overly sensitive gag reflexes, and those that have difficulty controlling movements while in the chair. There are a wide variety of sedation methods that can be used, such as conscious sedation. Read on to learn more about this sedation method and what it entails.  

How Does Conscious Sedation Differ from Other Methods?

A minimal sedation method, like nitrous oxide (laughing gas), can be a good fit for many people since it provides pain relief and a decreased risk of complications. However, some people may have such severe dental anxiety that they may prefer a deeper sedation method. Some people think that the only deep sedation method available to them is general anesthesia. General anesthesia renders a patient completely unconscious and is usually reserved for extensive procedures. Conscious sedation, on the other hand, is a happy medium between minimal sedation and general anesthesia. Conscious sedation can be administered with oral tablets, or it can be administered through an IV. Patients will get groggy and can actually fall asleep during conscious sedation, but your dentist will be able to nudge you awake, unlike general anesthesia.

Which Sedation Drugs are Used?

Conscious sedation drugs can include benzodiazepines, ketamine, propofol, dexmedetomidine, etc. The sedation method that is used will depend on factors such as the age of the patient, length of the procedure, health history, and the dentist's preferences. For example, ketamine may be a good fit for short procedures since low doses don't last a long time; however, ketamine may not be suitable for people who are sensitive to changes in blood pressure. If a child is undergoing a procedure, then a short-acting benzodiazepine, like Midazolam, may be used since there are few complications.

How Can You Prepare for a Conscious Sedation Appointment?

Before your schedule an appointment, your dentist will go over your health history to make sure you are a good candidate. Contraindicated patients may include those who are pregnant, have allergies, or have certain diseases/conditions.

During a deep sedation method, like general anesthesia, fasting is usually required because there is a risk of vomiting and aspiration. You may not have to fast as long with conscious sedation, but your dentist may advise you to stop eating for a certain time so that you don't suffer from nausea and so that the sedative can take full effect. Ultimately, you should listen to your dentist's guidelines.

If you are taking a tablet rather than having an IV in-office, your dentist may have you take the tablet about half an hour before the actual appointment so that the medication can be absorbed by the body. Conscious sedation can temporarily affect memory and motor skills, so you also need someone to drive you home after your dental appointment.

Reach out to a dentist today to learn more about conscious sedation and other sedation dentistry options.