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Conscious Sedation is defined as a minimally depressed level of consciousness that retains the patient's ability to independently and continuously maintain an airway and respond appropriately to physical stimulation and verbal command and that is produced by pharmacological or nonpharmacologic method or combination thereof.
Sedation Dentistry, sometimes called Relaxation Dentistry, refers to the way dentist's manage Pain and Anxiety during dental appointments.
Unlike General Anesthesia where a patient is completely unconscious, asleep, and unable to respond, patients under Conscious Sedation, are able to respond to commands and breath on their own.
There are actually 14 different ways that sedation drugs can be administered. There are 3 primary ways that Sedation is administered in the Dental Office:
1. IV Sedation is used by dentists with specialized training and special certification. With this type of sedation, medications are administered directly into the blood stream. The greatest advantage of IV Sedation is that if someone is not sedated enough, the doctor can administer more medication and the effects are instantaneous. IV Sedation is not used commonly in most dental offices because of the specialized advanced training required and the requirements for certification by the State Board of Dentistry. The drugs used for IV Sedation are much more effective then the same drugs taken orally. There is profound amnesia associated with this technique.
2. Enteral Conscious Sedation "Orally Administered Sedation", sometimes called "Pill Sedation" is administered by taking a pill. All body functions remain normal and the person is able to breathe on their own. Although marketed heavily by lesser trained Dentist due to its ease of use, sleeping pills are not a reliable sedation medication on there own. Due to the poor predictability and results, Oral sedation is best used as a mild relaxer before a procedure. Only some degree of amnesia is common. The disadvantage with this method of sedation, is that the level of sedation for each person is very unpredictable, and there is a very long delay of effects if more medication is needed.
3. Inhalation Conscious Sedation, Nitrous Oxide/Oxygen Sedation also known as "laughing gas". This is the most frequently used sedation method used in dentistry. All bodily functions remain normal and the person is able to breathe on their own. The patient will not fall asleep and will not have memory loss. It is best used for mildly anxious patients who wish only a small amount of sedation to "take the edge off".