Inhalation sedation is a technique where a patient inhales mixtures of nitrous oxide and oxygen in order for them to be lightly sedated. The main purpose for using inhalation sedation is to allow patients to relax maximally without any anxiety during minor dental and other surgical procedures. It is designed to help you relax during your treatment. Conscious sedation is the use of various drugs to enable a minor surgical procedure including a dental procedure to be conducted without upsetting the patient, so they can be relaxed and unconcerned and without anxiety. Inhalation sedation is another term for conscious sedation with nitrous oxide/oxygen. Other terms are also used viz., relative analgesia and minimal sedation
When nitrous oxide/oxygen is used for inhalation sedation combined only with local anesthetics no special monitoring devices such as oxymetry is required. However, when other drugs such as benzodiazepines or other central nervous system depressants are combined with nitrous oxide/oxygen this is no longer inhalation sedation, but deep sedation or even general anaesthesia. Those using nitrous oxide and oxygen for inhalation sedation readily avoid deeply sedating their patients and/or producing general anaesthesia.
When patients are given nitrous oxide/oxygen with local anesthesia they are gradually given increasing doses of nitrous oxide and oxygen over some time until they are completely relaxed but fully conscious. Once they have reached the optimal level of sedation, they will be anxiety free but fully conscious and able to communicate with the sedationist. Local anaesthetic is then given, which in no way increases the level of sedation. When a local anesthetic is given while the patient is correctly sedated they will hardly be aware that they are getting an injection. The surgical or dental procedure can then be completed with a relaxed and comfortable patient and a practitioner empowered to do his/her best work. After the treatment has been completed, the patient is then given pure oxygen for a short period of approximately 10 minutes and the sedation will be completely reversed. After waiting a further 30 minutes or so, the patient will be fit to operate machinery and drive home unattended.
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