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Dental Sedation: An Introduction

07 Oct 2021

6 min read

By Dr. Robert Chaffe
White & Co.


Anesthetists are highly qualified and skilled in using different combinations of drugs.

The way they monitor a dental patient is extremely thorough.

In years gone by, dentists would also act as an “operator seditionist”. 

So they would sedate the patient, carry out the dentistry and – alongside the dental nurse – monitor the patient.

Sedation is safe but, as time goes by, we constantly strive to make it safer than ever before.

Sedation dentistry: Can you really relax in the dentist's chair?

The dentist does the dentistry and the sedationist and anesthetist takes care of the sedation and anaesthetic.

The idea is that everyone has a specific role so that, in the unlikely event of a small problem, it can be very easily managed.

What sedation do dentists use?

Intravenous sedation is very popular.

A combination of drugs is used and the benefit of this is that the patient will experience less of a hangover effect.

One of the traditional issues with sedation was that, if the patient only had one drug, they could feel groggy afterwards.


Midazolam is a popular drug in intravenous sedation. It’s easy to use and it’s very safe.

During intravenous sedation, patients are attached to a monitor so that their oxygen saturation is monitored. It’s a bit like when you go to A&E.

The patient’s blood pressure is monitored every five minutes and everything is fully documented.

We are all trained in managing the airways so we can deal with any problems.

It’s extremely valuable having an anaesthetist on site because they are so well trained and because they do this all the time.

What does conscious sedation feel like?

Sedation relaxes the patient.

One of the many other benefits of sedation, especially with Midazolam, is the patient will experience amnesia – they can’t remember the procedure.

So, for example, if you hate having your teeth taken out, you won’t be able to remember it.

But when the patient is sedated, they are still awake so we can talk to the patient and they can communicate with us.