Conscious sedation is a tactic used by many dentists and oral surgeons for simple procedures that typically does not include a hospital stay. Unlike full anesthesia, conscious sedation involves the use of select medications to relax the patient and anesthetize the body to prevent pain during and after the procedure. Sedation dentistry is occasionally also used to help certain patients that experience extreme anxiety through routine dental care.
With sedation dentistry, the patient is typically administered the medications intravenously, and this may be combined with an inhaled medication such as nitrous oxide. The use of nitrous oxide alone is also a type of conscious sedation used in dentistry. During the procedure, the patient remains relaxed but awake or responsive, but will experience some drowsiness. Following a procedure with conscious sedation, the recovery timeline will vary depending on how the patient responds to the sedatives and how long the patient was sedated, but the typical timeline is about 30 minutes before the patient is released to their escort.
All dentists and professionals that offer conscious sedation, as well as other types of anesthesia, are thoroughly trained and licensed to offer these options to patients. The oral surgeon or dentist is often assisted by a highly skilled nurse or dental assistant trained and legally authorized to assist with anesthesia administration, monitoring, and procedures. The assistant allows the dentist to focus on the procedure while ensuring a trained professional is present to monitor the patient while the sedation is provided.
The benefits of conscious sedation in sedation dentistry include a significant reduction in possible nausea following the procedure, a common downside to traditional general anesthesia. There is also a reduction in after-sedation vomiting, muscle fatigue, body aches, headaches, sore throat, and other typical anesthesia side effects. Additionally, the oral surgeon or dentist can administer just enough of the sedative and anesthetic to a given patient for comfort, or adjust as needed throughout the procedure. For more information about conscious sedation and sedation dentistry options, contact our skilled oral surgery team at 703-425-5010 today!