Conscious Sedation For Dental Work - Risks Explained

Conscious Sedation For Dental Work - Risks Explained

Mar 02, 2022

Conscious sedation is a type of sedation widely used in dentistry for nervous or worried patients during treatments such as fillings, root canals, or routine cleanings. It’s also commonly used to calm patients and reduce discomfort during endoscopies and small surgical procedures.

This kind of sedation reduces pain, anxiety, and discomfort during the dental process. This is possible through medications and local anesthesia that enhances relaxation.

Although conscious sedation has been proven helpful, medical professionals question its safety and efficacy due to its effects on respiration and heart rate. In addition, it is vital to know that although most dentists can administer minimal sedation, only a small percentage of dentists are certified for more complex sedation techniques. Therefore, some dentists use dental anesthesiologists during intense procedures. All American Dental evaluates the risks associated with conscious sedation for dental work in this article.

What is Conscious Sedation?

Conscious sedation is a procedure in which a substance or medicine is used to induce a state of depression in the central nervous system (CNS) that allows treatment to be performed while maintaining verbal contact with the patient during the sedation phase.

Medical experts now refer to conscious sedation as procedural sedation and analgesia. Instead of conscious sedation, medical experts used other names, including happy air, laughing gas, happy gas, twilight sleep, and sleep dentistry.

To obtain conscious sedation, you may need to request it, especially for dental treatments such as fillings, root canals, or crown replacements. This is because only local numbing medications are usually employed in these situations.

There are three different stages of conscious sedation for dental work. First, there is minimal sedation, also known as anxiolysis. At this stage, you are relaxed but completely aware and responsive.

The second stage is referred to as moderate. Here, you’re drowsy and may pass out, but you’re still relatively responsive. The third stage is known as deep. At the deep stage, you’ll nod off and become mostly unresponsive.

Conscious sedation is used for people with low pain tolerance, cannot relax and sit still in the dentist’s chair, have very sensitive teeth, require a large amount of dental work to be completed, and have a feeble gag reaction.

Various drugs are used for conscious sedation. With oral conscious sedation, you will swallow a tablet that contains diazepam or triazolam. For intramuscular sedation, you will get an injection of midazolam into a muscle. For intravenous(IV), you will receive an infusion of midazolam or Propofol. Where inhalation sedation is used, your dentist will give you a mask to wear and breath nitrous oxide.

What Are The Side Effects of Conscious Sedation?

  • Sedation may reduce your breathing, and the nurse may give you oxygen. This is because when the drugs used for sedation start to kick in, you experience drowsiness and relaxation, and therefore you will not have the strength to breathe properly. The nurse needs to monitor your breathing to ensure all your vital organs function normally during the dental procedure.
  • Your blood pressure may be affected, and you may get IV fluids to stabilize your blood pressure. You cannot breathe properly when the local anesthesia starts to kick in. Therefore the sedatives cause a decrease in cerebral metabolism, blood flow, and intracranial pressure. This means that the nurse should monitor your blood pressure, and if there is a change in the pressure, IV fluids are administered to stabilize the oscillation.
  • Because sedation effects may linger, you may have a headache and nausea and feel sleepy for several hours. Headaches linger on due to your body’s response to the anesthesia administered, but the pain will fade away after a few hours.

A person also feels tired and sleepy as these are effects of the drug administered. This is why it is important to plan for your transportation to home after anesthesia, as your judgment is impaired due to the sedatives given.

Nausea and vomiting are also side effects of conscious sedation. These side effects can be induced by various causes, including medication, mobility, and the type of dental procedure performed.

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