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What is Sedation?

Conscious sedation is the process of relieving the anxiety associated with dental treatment through the provision of safe and effective drugs whilst remaining fully conscious. This results in you, the patient, being more comfortable during dental treatment with the additional benefit of reducing pain. It is a very safe and effective alternative to a general anaesthetic due to the reduced recovery time and side effects of the stronger drugs used during a general anaesthetic.

Conscious sedation is the perfect choice for patients who are anxious or have phobias of the dentist. Any dental procedure can be carried out under conscious sedation and it can benefit people with a severe gag reflex, anxiety and dental phobia.

The aims of sedation are to

Minimise recovery time, discomfort and anxiety

Maximise cost effectiveness for you, safety and comfort

What is it?

IV sedation allows you to be more comfortable, relaxed and less anxious during dental treatment. In addition your pain threshold is much higher enabling you to tolerate dental treatment much more readily than before. The medications used results in you becoming relaxed, drowsy and even sleepy. Furthermore, the vast majority of the patients have little or no memory of the dental procedure. Whilst you are very drowsy, verbal communication is still possible.

Is it safe?

The procedure will only ever be carried out by a highly skilled clinician who is very experienced and doesn’t leave your side. Furthermore, the highly advanced equipment used, is constantly monitoring your vital signs such as heart rate, oxygen and blood pressure. The biggest benefit is the recovery time, which is minimal compared to a general anaesthetic.

The benefits of sedation

1. Relieves anxiety and improves co-operation between patient and dentist

2. Avoids the need for a general anaesthetic for treatment

3. This is turn prevents having to take time off work due to hospital admission

4. Safer than a general anaesthetic due to the drugs being much less stronger.

Intravenous (IV) sedation is the most common form of conscious sedation which involves placing a small needle into a vein in your arm or hand to deliver the necessary sedative medications. This will result in an altered state of consciousness thus enabling the required dental treatment to be carried out whilst sedated.

During the sedation you will be, relaxed, calm, drowsy and vaguely aware of your surroundings. In addition, your pain threshold will be significantly increased and therefore should not feel any pain or anxiety throughout the duration of the dental procedure. However, you will still be able to maintain verbal communication with the seditionist and will find (in the vast majority of patients) that you have no recollection of the procedure.

Conscious Sedation

General Anesthetic


drowsy / sleepy / relaxed

consciousness maintained

Airway maintained by patient

Can be done in dental practice setting

Completely asleep


Airway maintained by anaesthetist

Requires hospital environment


lower drug dose, thus safer than general anaesthetic

higher drug dose, stronger drugs used, thus less safe than sedation

Side effects

lower drug dose and type results in reduced side effects compared to general anaesthetic

higher drug dose and type results in increased side effects compared to sedation


Much shorter, usually within an hour

Can take several hours to fully recover from general anaesthetic


Cost is far less for sedation due to reduced recovery period and no need for hospital admission

Far more costly due to longer recovery, hospital theatre setting and anaesthetist requirements.


Sedation Pricing

First hour of sedation


Additional hours

per hour


First hour of sedation


Additional hours

per hour


Frequently Asked Questions

Whilst these will be discussed with you in full in person during a pre-assessment session, you may experience:

  • bruising at the site of injection
  • vein irritation which can last for several days
  • nausea & vomiting
  • allergic reaction (very rare)

Following the procedure you should rest and relax for the next 24 hours ensuring your escort is available for this period. In addition you should not:

Drive / ride a bicycle

Cook or use electrical equipment

Operate any machinery

Look after children or dependent individuals

Sign any important documents

Use alcohol, sleeping tablets or any recreational drugs

Local anaesthetic is the drug administered with a needle into the mouth when you have any dental treatment in order to make the area numb. Many people have a phobia of this, however, this is always provided to ensure that during a dental procedure, no pain is felt, and afterwards there is some pain relief. This is also provided during a general anaesthetic and sedation procedure for the same reason, however, it is given after the general anaesthetic or sedation drugs have been administered.

On the other hand, a general anaesthetic can only be provided in a hospital setting with an anaesthetist. The use of stronger drugs, results in you becoming unconscious with the anaesthetist being in control of your airway with the assistance of machines and monitors. Due to this and the drugs used it is seen as less safer than IV sedation which can be carried out in dental practice setting.

IV Sedation is seen as a less invasive alternative option to a general anaesthetic which is safer and has a shorter recovery time. Once sedated, the local anaesthetic injection can then be given. But by this time you will be calm, relaxed and have a higher pain threshold than normal which will enable this to be a straightforward procedure.

The following guidelines are usually followed, but will be discussed in more detail at a pre-assessment appointment.

Food – no solid food 6 hours prior to the procedure

Liquid – clear fluids up until 2 hours prior to the procedure

If diabetic, this will be discussed in further detail at your pre-assessment appointment.

One big benefit of sedation is pain control, as the drugs provided increase your pain threshold. This means that things that are normally painful or uncomfortable are not so. In addition, the use of local anaesthetic will further assist in pain management both during and after the procedure. For patients who have a very low pain threshold, additional drugs can also be used to provide an additional pain control measure

Whilst recovery time depends on the type of drugs used, everyone’s individual response to them and the length of sedation the vast majority of people recover within 30-60 minutes. The seditionist will ensure you are fully monitored and recovered before being allowed to go home with a suitable escort.

Whilst limited, there are some side effects which are listed below:





Nausea / vomiting

Whilst these are uncommon, these side effects can be worsened if you have pre-existing health conditions or medications (including herbal medications). It is therefore very important to discuss these with the seditionist before hand. Due to the safety profile of sedation, even patients with complex medical histories and medications can be safely sedated for dental treatment.

Whilst the sedation produces a state of altered awareness and relaxation, it is not as effective as local anaesthetic in numbing pain during dental treatment. As a result local anaesthetic is always required. This enables pain relief during the and after the procedure once the sedation has worn off. The local anaesthetic injection will only be given after you are adequately sedated

The benefit of sedation is that your pain threshold is much higher enabling you to tolerate the local anaesthetic much better than you would have without the sedation.

As a result sedation works very well with people who do not tolerate local anaesthetic injections due to phobia or inability to get adequately numb.

This is usually dependent on the type of treatment required, but once the dental procedure is completed, a recovery time of 30-60 mins is usually required, following which you will be discharged into the care of your escort. The drugs can take around 24 hours to be completely flushed from your system and it is therefore important to have a escort to keep a close eye on you for this period.

Yes, as you will still be recovering from the effects of the sedation. Sedation will not be carried out without a suitable escort available, this is in the interest of your safety. In the event that you do not have an escort, the sedation will be cancelled.


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We take the time to listen and respond to your needs. This helps us understand our patients better than anyone else. Our approach to patient care revolves around you, so that you have input and control of your care.

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