Conscious Sedation – What a Dental Patient Needs to Know

dentist cleaning a mold of someone's mouth

Sedation dentistry is a great tool for the modern clinic that has overly anxious patients. It is very important to ensure patient safety during these types of procedures. It is important to have adequate training and experienced doctors and staff when dealing with sedation.

If a dentist chooses to use sedation on a patient they should be aware of how to handle emergencies and be cognizant of important things like the level of medicine that might lead to overdoses.

It is also good for the entire dentist staff to be certified in CPR. The percentages of ill effects occurring during a sedation cleaning are extremely small, but it is good to be prepared for emergencies.

Like anything practice is important. The dental staff should regularly practice what to do in case of an emergency. Checklists are also extremely helpful because they make the dental team follow step by step procedures which is good for preventing errors. Much like airline pilots have to follow checklists to prevent errors the same is helpful in a dentist’s office.

In addition to regular practice, dental staff should also take frequent or yearly training sessions to learn the latest sedation techniques. The reason why it is so important to practice to train and to continually learn and update your skills is that when an emergency occurs, instinct takes over and you fall back on your training.

A great place to stay sharp and up-to-date on your sedation dentistry skills is at the website for the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation.

According to the docs website, there are over 90 million Americans who are scared of seeing the dentist. The great benefit of sedation is that it has helped over 20 million reluctant patience to get dental treatment without pain in just the last 20 years.

Because the use of sedation techniques is becoming more widespread throughout the country the docs came up with the idea of a sedation safety week, which is an annual marketing and training effort that demonstrates the industry’s commitment to patients’ safety and comfort.

The sedation safety week is also meant to promote awareness. It is a great platform to educate state regulators and politicians on the importance of proper sedation care. It is an effort to ensure patients have the access they need to the care that will best help them.

You can learn more about the various state regulations by reading this article:

It’s also good to learn more from a dentist that has been trained in conscious sedation and practiced the technique for decades.  If you can talk with an experienced and honest dentist, they will tell you all the benefits, plus some of the downsides.  This type of dentistry is not for everyone, and don’t be surprised if the dentist actually tries to talk you out of it.  That’s probably the sign of a caring dentist.

Dental anesthesiology is here to stay. The American Dental Association has officially recognized sedation as a critical tool for dental care.

The ADA has proven that anesthesiology is a separate skill set from general dentistry that requires extra training, research, and education.

The reason that safety is so important in the field of oral anesthesiology is that well over 50% of patients say that they are interested in receiving a pain-free dental treatment, also known as sedation.

People, in general, want to avoid pain and this is what makes sedation so popular. That combined with an overall dislike in the apprehension of getting your teeth cleaned, means that the demand for sedation dentistry is not only not going anywhere in the future it will only increase.

Due to the growing demand for these services, and increasing regulation, scrutiny, and restriction from the authorities, it has never been more important to educate and train existing dentists and dental students on the benefits to the patients of sedation dentistry.

So we have established that sedation is a tremendously useful and desirable tool for dentists.

Like anything we need to be careful how we use this very important tool. This is especially important in regards to children because they can be at greater risk for unintended and adverse reactions to these drugs.

An important factor in regards to pediatric sedation is to remember that a child’s response to the various levels of sedation can change dramatically within a matter of seconds. For these reasons, child patience needs to be monitored even more closely and require additional training to perform pediatric anesthesiology safely.

One of the biggest safety measures when dealing with children, that the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists ( recommends, is to have a provider that monitors the child throughout the entire procedure, never leaving the child side.

This increased monitoring is needed because child patients can sometimes drop into greater levels of sedation than originally planned. If this occurs, it can be rectified immediately, if they are monitored closely throughout the entire procedure.

It is also a good idea after a sedation procedure to monitor children until they are up and awake, and it’s important they are aware enough to not be at risk for cardio-respiratory problems.

You want to be able to observe a child’s air circulation periodically, at least every 5 to 10 minutes until the child is suitable to be discharged.

There is still work to be done

There is no doubt that the field of sedation dentistry has come a long way period it is safer than ever. But there is still room for improvement.

It is important to study factors that may lead to negative outcomes. it’s important to look at what regulatory agencies are doing that’s working, and also to see areas for improvement