Sedation dentistry is the process of administering medication to help patients relax during dental procedures. There are two types of sedation, conscious and non-conscious. Based on the drug delivery method, conscious sedation may be classified as inhalation, oral, intravenous, and intramuscular sedation.
For inhalation sedation, nitrous oxide is used as the sedative. It is the most common technique used by dentists. It is regulated, has less side effects, and recovery is prompt.
Oral sedation is less expensive, but the recovery make take several hours. Patients may also experience side-effects such as nausea and vomiting.
Intravenous conscious sedation offers the fastest onset of action. It is usually recommended for long and invasive dental procedures
Lastly, intramuscular sedation is the least common type of sedation. It is usually administered to fearful children.
Another type of dental sedation is the non-conscious sedation, or otherwise known as general anesthesia. It is the recommended type of dental sedation performed by dentists for lengthy and invasive dental procedures or surgery. This type of sedation is only performed by trained professionals in a hospital setting.
Generally, the trained professional underwent at least two years of extensive training for this type of procedure. Usually, the anesthesiologist, dental anesthesiologist, or oral surgeon performs the procedure. Highly-trained professionals render this task since it has an increased risk involved, and a higher cost. The medicines used for general anesthesia are very costly. General anesthesia is administered either by inhalation using an anesthesia machine and/or using an IV medication. It will make you almost unconscious, or deeply asleep during the procedure.
In general anesthesia, the patient goes completely unconscious and cannot be easily awakened until the duration of action of the drug wears-off in the patient's body. The patient is completely not aware of his or her surroundings, and will not remember anything about the procedure, just like being placed in some degree of amnesia.
It is important that the anesthetized patient's vital signs be strictly monitored, including oxygen saturation, temperature, heartbeat, blood pressure, breathing rate, etc. Generally, it is probably safer to use this type of sedation during long dental procedures because the anesthesiologist can monitor the airway of the patient.
This type of sedation is best for patients with an underlying pathologic condition or illness that may affect the procedure. For example, a patient with Parkinson's disease who needs to undergo a dental procedure, must be placed under general anesthesia because his or her underlying condition might affect his or her body's movement control, thus making it hard for the dentist to proceed with the procedure. By being almost unconscious or in deep sleep, the dentist may effectively perform the procedure no matter how invasive or long it may take.