Conscious sedation is the use of nitrous oxide to put a patient in a relaxed state while the dentist performs the dental procedure. The sedative drugs help the patient to become free of stress and anxiety, reduce memory of the treatment, and make the dental appointment a pleasant experience even in case of invasive treatments. On the same time, sedation makes the procedure easier for the dentist, allowing him to concentrate on performing the dental treatment in the best possible way to a fully co-operative patient.
The main benefits of conscious sedation for the patient and the dentist include the following:
Dental anxiety and dental phobia are estimated to keep away form the dental office more than 10% of patients with a dental problem. Even more decide to postpone treatment due to dental anxiety. conscious sedation can transform dental visits to a relaxing experience, with the patient relieved from stress and fear.
Everyone who is about to have a dental treatment can benefit from the increased level of comfort offered through conscious sedation. After a lengthy treatment you will not feel tired if you have been sedated. Patients with tmj problems, jaw soreness and difficulty to keep their mouth wide open will be much more comfortable with dental sedation. Some types of dental sedation (e.g. nitrous oxide) may also increase the pain threshold making some procedures possible with no or less local anesthesia.
Sedation minimizes the movements of the dental patient, which is extremely beneficial in case of several medical conditions(special children, patients with increased neuro muscular activity) that affect the patient’s movement control. The uncontrolled and unexpected movements of the patient make it almost impossible for the dentist to perform the treatment unless the patient is sedated. In serious conditions, conscious sedation may not be enough requiring deep sedation or general anesthesia.
Another benefit of conscious sedation which is very important for the dentist is the increased patient co-operation. Patients with mental conditions and some very anxious children may be so uncooperative that may make difficult to get proper dental care.
Reducing the gag reflex is an added benefit of conscious sedation. Gagging, especially if it is anxiety-induced, can be managed very successfully with sedation. If you have a sensitive gag reflex and you feel the urge to choke or throw up when your dentist is working in your mouth, conscious sedation can significantly reduce this feeling.
conscious sedation can help patients to tolerate longer appointments without feeling discomfort or getting exhausted from keeping their mouth open. The dentist can also work easier, being able to operate for longer time. With conscious sedation, complex or multiple procedures that would require many appointments can be completed in a few or even a single dental visit; a huge benefit of dental sedation for patients with time constraints and very tight schedule.
Another added benefit of conscious sedation is that many dentists say that they can provide better treatment quality when the patient is under dental sedation. With a relaxed patient the dentist can concentrate on performing the dental procedure with better accuracy, without having to worry about patient movements or gagging, having to speed up because the patient has got tired, or to slow down because he feels discomfort. It can also help to reduce the post-operative muscle stiffness and healing time.
This is the combined effect of all the benefits of conscious sedation already discussed in this article. For a significant part of dental patients, conscious sedation gives them the opportunity to improve their oral health by helping them to get the best possible level of dental care. Otherwise, some of these patients, such as those suffering from dental phobia, might have never visited the dentist to receive dental treatment, while others might get inadequate treatment as a result of constraints and limitations due to psychological, physical or social reasons.