What is Conscious Sedation?

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Conscious Sedation for dental treatment is a technique in which the sedation practitioner will alter the level of consciousness by the administration of drugs. “The level of sedation (level of consciousness) must be such that the patient remains conscious, retains protective airway reflexes e.g. coughing and swallowing, and is able to respond to verbal commands” (UK Department of Health 2003).  The idea is to make the patient comfortable, free from anxiety and pain and the patient may even sleep.


It is absolutely essential that a wide margin of safety is maintained between conscious

sedation and the unconscious state of general anaesthesia, where verbal communication with the patient, and protective reflexes are lost. It is important that there is a clear understanding by the patient and the sedation team that conscious sedation does not mean the patient will be “knocked out”.


The effective management of pain and anxiety before, during and after operations is of paramount importance for sedation practitioners to achieve patient satisfaction. Conscious Sedation is a fundamental component of this objective. It must however be remembered that local anaesthesia plays an important part in providing analgesia. The safety record is excellent as all international guidelines on sedation expect sedation practitioners to be trained, and to update knowledge and skills regularly by attending courses and symposia.