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. A patient relaxed with conscious sedation is much easier to treat and the work of the professional can be done to the highest standard of care.
Nitrous and oxygen can be used safely alone or in combination with almost all available agents (by mouth or usually by injection), including opioids, benzodiazepines chloral hydrate and local anaesthetics. However, when nitrous oxide and oxygen are used for conscious sedation only local anaesthetics should be added, otherwise general anaesthesia can occur. General anaesthesia should only be conducted under the supervision of a highly skilled anaesthetist and/or other specially trained medical professionals. When nitrous oxide/oxygen is used for conscious sedation 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 used in combination with nitrous oxide/oxygen it is obligatory to use specialised monitoring devices including oxymetry and electro-cardiography. Specialised monitoring is absolutely essential for any deep state of conscious sedation as well. The safest form of conscious sedation employs relatively low doses of nitrous oxide with at least 20 percent but usually 30 percent oxygen, given through specialised equipment with local anaesthetics only. Those registered health care professionals who use the correct equipment and have undergone a short hands-on training course, by an expert on the technique plus the full theoretical training, will be able to keep the patient relaxed and anxiety free. Such practitioners will be able to ensure that their patients are well beyond deep sedation and definitely nowhere near general anaesthesia. This is the great advantage of nitrous oxide/oxygen conscious sedation, because it is such a safe technique that trained practitioners do not need to worry that they are oversedating their patients. If they correctly follow their practical hands-on and theoretical training guidelines and use the customized equipment, they will never produce general anaesthesia in their patients. This is not the case where nitrous oxide/oxygen is used with other sedating agents apart from local anaesthesia.
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