Dentists may use different levels of sedation during the treatment to decrease a child's/adult's discomfort or anxiety. Levels of sedation include minimal to moderate sedation (also known as conscious sedation) , where the person would show responses to verbal and tactile stimuli and deep sedation where there is purposeful response to repeated stimuli. General anesthesia is when one goes into a state of complete unconsciousness.

Conscious Sedation is generally used where one needs multiple dental procedures and feels particularly anxious, has special needs or is too young to understand and cooperate. It is completely safe when administered by an internationally-qualified dentist. He/she will also assess one's eligibility for sedation and determine the type used, the based on medical history, treatment needs and other factors such as nasal congestion.

You should make the dentist aware of any breathing difficulties that may restrict the use of inhaled sedatives. The dentist should be informed of any medication taken at that time. There may also be specific instructions you need to follow as advised in advance by the dentist, such as fasting for a specified time before the treatment.

After the treatment, the dentist will monitor the patient's condition and discharge him/her when the effects of the sedation have tapered off.

Methods of Sedation

Inhalations using nitrous oxide gas is the safest route for sedation in dentistry. This utilizes nitrous oxide and oxygen, which are administered simply by a fitted mask over the nose and enters the system during normal breathing. Nitrous oxide, sometimes called 'laughing gas', provides a sense of euphoria and overall relaxation while remaining conscious and responsive throughout.

Your dentist will advise the patient to fast from food for two hours before the procedure to avoid vomiting or nausea. When the treatment is completed and after a short period of breathing normal air, the effect of the nitrous oxide subsides with no after-effects.

Oral sedation - is another route to administer a sedative to decrease and relieve patients' anxiety on the chair. The medication is in the form of a pill in case of adults or sedating syrup in case of children.

In case of an adult, the patient is not allowed to drive home straight away after the procedure, because the effects of the medication might last for a few hours.

Parenteral sedation - is less commonly used where the medication is injected intravenously or intramuscularly.

General anesthesia - puts the patient into an unconscious state in a carefully controlled and continuously monitored environment.

General anesthesia may be deemed necessary where extensive treatment is required, or where an adult or child is particularly anxious and uncooperative.

There can be a small element of risk involved, although risk is largely ruled out when applied by a qualified anesthesiologist in a facility that is well-equipped for the purpose.

Your dentist will fully discuss with you the reasons for resorting to general anesthesia, as well as the benefits and risks. A physical examination will also be conducted to assess eligibility.

General anesthesia is administered by an anesthesiologist who will monitor the level of consciousness throughout the procedure. Vital signs are assessed to ensure full recovery before discharge. These include level of consciousness, oxygenation, and ventilation. Post-operative verbal and written instructions are given to advise any short-term activity or dietary considerations once they return home.

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