Conscious Sedation

Conscious Sedation is a form of sedation used in dental treatment, and is commonly known as happy gas or laughing gas.

Administration of conscious sedation is a rapid and effective way to help reduce associated dental anxiety, pain and even suppress the gag reflex.

There are no limitations to what procedures conscious sedation can be utilised with as it is a predictable and harmless sedative. Regularly used on young children, this sedation can prevent the need for hospitalisation & general anaesthesia as it enables the dentist to safely treat the calm child in the chair.

The conscious sedation gas is mixed with oxygen and the effective dose (varies for each individual) is delivered through a small nosepiece. The patient will still be conscious throughout the entire procedure, however will feel more at ease.

The effects of conscious sedation are self-limiting and there is no “hangover” effect, thus recovery is almost instant after the dental treatment has been completed. The great thing about this treatment, is that the laughing gas wears off after a few minutes, typically within 3-5 minutes. After some rest to regain your abilities, you can drive home safely without an escort.

Frequently Asked Questions

Conscious sedation is a type of sedation commonly used in dental treatment to induce relaxation and reduce anxiety. It is also known as Happy Gas or Laughing Gas.

Conscious sedation is delivered to you through a small nosepiece while you remain conscious throughout the dental procedure. Sedation with Happy Gas can be used for almost all dental procedures. It is essential to emphasise that Happy Gas will NOT put you to “sleep” or make you go unconscious. It is a form of conscious sedation, and thus you will be awake and responsive during the entire procedure. You usually recover quickly (within minutes) from the effects of the sedation after the dental treatment has been completed.

Happy Gas can safely be used for both children and adults. Your dentist will check your medical history for any potential risks with using this form of conscious sedation. For successful inhalation of the gas, you must be able to comfortably breathe through your nose and tolerate the placement of a nasal device throughout the planned dental procedure.

Conscious sedation can be extremely helpful for patients with special needs or with dental anxiety, young children, and also can reduce the gag reflex for patients who otherwise would not successfully tolerate certain dental procedures. However, it is not always a suitable option if you suffer from severe dental anxiety, the treating dentist will discuss this with you during the examination/ consultation.

If you wish to use conscious sedation for your dental treatment, often you will first have a consultation or examination appointment where a treatment plan is devised. You can then discuss your wish to use conscious sedation with your dentist, and an appointment will be scheduled accordingly.

The clinician will go through any risks involved with both the dental procedure you will be undergoing and the sedation.

In general, very few risks are involved with the use of conscious sedation; however, some risks can include:

  • Potential drop in oxygen levels. If this happens, you will be given additional oxygen through an oxygen mask. Your clinician will carefully monitor your breathing and oxygen levels throughout the procedure to gauge if this occurs.
  • Rarely patients may vomit, and even more rarely, the patient may breathe the vomit into their lungs, which may require additional medical support.


Preparation for Conscious Sedation

To mentally prepare for your dental procedure, you will be provided a treatment plan by your clinician where it will outline which dental procedure you will be undergoing while using conscious sedation. If it is your first time undergoing conscious sedation, we recommend bringing a family member or a friend to drive you home after the treatment as everyone responds differently.

We advise a light meal and a drink two hours before the procedure. After that, you should avoid eating or drinking (unless medically necessary) until after the dental procedure, keeping in mind the areas of lingering numbness if local anesthesia was used.

During the Procedure

Conscious sedation is given in the dental chair. You will breathe the sedation gas through a small nose piece. It does not cover your mouth.
The conscious sedation procedure can make you feel sleepy and relaxed. You will still be aware of what is happening around you, but will feel light, floaty, warm, and may have tingling in your hands and feet. You may be a little forgetful, and might not be able to completely remember the dental procedure afterwards. If you do not like the feeling of the conscious sedation, it can be stopped immediately.

While administering the conscious sedation, the clinician will continuously monitor your level of sedation/response and oxygen saturation.
If required, local anesthesia injections are usually provided once the effects of the conscious sedation have kicked in. Often the sedation makes delivery of the local anesthesia easier as the needle is felt much less.

After the Procedure

You will recover from the effects of the Happy Gas very quickly once the dental treatment has been completed. Often a full recovery takes only a few minutes and you are able to drive home and function normally for the rest of the day. If it is your first time using conscious sedation, we recommend having a family member or friend accompany you to the appointment as everyone has a different response to treatment.

Affinity Dentistry