Conscious Sedation / Nitrous

Conscious sedation

Sedation refers to the administration of a sedative drug either orally, by inhalation or through I.V. There are different types of sedation, namely minimal/conscious sedation, moderate sedation, deep sedation and general anesthesia. It helps to numb a certain body part of an individual which is being treated or operated. Conscious sedation refers to the administration of a sedative drug which keeps the patient awake and in a relaxed state but numbs the tissues. The patient doesn't lose consciousness as in the case of local or general anesthesia. This form of sedation is extensively used for dental procedures.

When is it used?

  • It is used when the dental procedure or surgery would last for a long duration, as in the case of installing dental implants or multiple teeth extraction.
  • When the patient is too fearful or anxious about the procedure, as in the case of young children.
  • When the patient would need to move the jaw during the surgery.

How does conscious sedation feel like?

Conscious sedation is administered when the doctor wants the patient to remain awake and respond to his commands. Even if the patient falls asleep during the surgery, they can be woken up with a gentle touch. They remain responsive to verbal commands. The patient's reflexes, such as breathing and coughing, function normally. The patient may feel slightly dizzy and the cognitive functions may be moderately impaired. However, conscious sedation is more helpful compared to general anesthesia, where the patient loses consciousness completely and doesn't respond to any stimuli.

Nitrous oxide sedation

Nitrous oxide, or more commonly known as laughing gas, is given to children to ease them from the fear of dental treatment. A mixture of two gases, i.e. nitrous oxide and oxygen, is given through a breathing mask to the patient to breathe, which relaxes them, but keeps them completely conscious and awake. Nitrous oxide sedation is proved to be very safe for young children as it has no side effects. After the dental treatment is over, the gas is easily eliminated from the patient's system by breathing. The natural reflexes of the patient would function naturally after sedation.

Other methods

Other methods of administering sedatives are orally and through I.V. Oral sedation, as the name suggests, is the swallowing of a sedative pill. It can produce an effect ranging from minimal to moderate sedation. I.V. sedation is the process of directly administering the sedative into the nerves of the patient. It has very less response time and takes immediate effect. The dentist can adjust the level of sedation regularly using this method. General anesthesia is rarely used for dental procedures. It's used when the surgery may take a lot of time and the area being operated is more.

After the completion of the surgery, the effect of the sedation may linger for a few minutes. The patient would feel drowsy and the tendency to sleep would be high. The effect would completely subside the next day. Conscious sedation has been a great addition to dental science, due to which the patient can remain conscious during the surgery without having to experience any pain.


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