Conscious sedation guide supports improving patient care and choice in dentistry

Secondary care teams providing NHS dentistry can now access a new guide on establishing conscious sedation services, helping to reduce reliance on general anaesthetic and improve patient care and choice.

Pain and anxiety control are fundamental aspects of patient-centred healthcare. It is estimated that 12% of the population have high levels of dental anxiety and others may need procedures that are long or invasive. Conscious sedation may enable some of these patients to accept dental treatment and offer a more appropriate choice for the patient than receiving a general anaesthetic.

Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) has developed the guide with the support of The Faculty of Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, the British Association of Oral Surgeons and the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry.

The guide follows findings in the GIRFT national report for hospital dentistry and academic papers showing that there is substantial unwarranted variation in the availability of sedation services across England.

Specific steps are outlined for clinicians, operational teams and commissioners interested in establishing conscious sedation services. These include pathways and tools to ensure adequate triage of patients and suggestions for accessing the training needed for staff. The guide also includes case studies of existing services for adults, children and people who receive special care.

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