During any discussion about major dental treatment the question of sedation frequently comes up. Several levels of anesthesia are available.
Local anesthesia is done by injecting medication into the tissue or applying a topical medication to numb the tissue.
With minimal sedation, patients inhale nitrous oxide through a mask, or may take a single dose of oral medication prescribed by the dentist. Under minimal sedation, a patient remains able to breathe on his/her own and may be able to respond to verbal commands. Minimal sedation may not be used on patients with respiratory problems or those with sensitivity to some drugs.
Moderate sedation is achieved using oral or intravenous (IV) drugs. The patient is awake and can respond to verbal commands. The patient under moderate sedation does not need help breathing.
Deep sedation, or general anesthesia, is achieved by giving oral and/or injected medications, combined with gases. Patients under deep sedation are not easily awakened but might be able to respond to some stimulation. Breathing assistance is needed under general anesthesia. Procedures utilizing this method will be done in hospital.
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