Conscious sedation in dentistry is accomplished using oral drugs such as Valium, Halcion, Ativan, Sonata, and Versed. Each offers differing degrees of sedation, and nearly all are used to treat other medical concerns such as insomnia and general anxiety. This class of drugs work by placing a person in a sort of “depression of consciousness” in which commands by the dental team can be acted upon, but no memory of the event – or any discomfort experienced during it – are recalled.
As the definition suggests, you will not actually be “unconscious” during the treatment. To be unconscious means you would be unable to respond to your environment, which you will be able to do under conscious sedation. With deeper sedation methods such as those used for complicated surgeries, sedation can be so deep that breathing is impaired, and breathing tubes are required. This is not the type of sedation covered under this code, nor the type generally experienced during routine dental procedures such as the extraction of wisdom teeth.
Another type of conscious sedation includes inhalation Nitrous Oxide, which has been used for dental treatments since its discovery in 1772. As with Nitrous Oxide, non-intravenous conscious sedation is directed mainly at achieving the following outcomes:
- Reduce or eliminate anxiety
- Minimize movement during dental treatment
- Enhance the clarity of communication and aid patient cooperation
- Temporarily increase one's pain threshold
- Increase tolerance for longer appointments
- Aid in treatment of the mentally/physically disabled or medically compromised patient