Sedation dentistry refers to the use of pharmacological agents to calm and relax a patient prior to and during a dental appointment.
There are different degrees of sedation, each corresponding to a level of relaxation which ranges from minimal, moderate, to deep sedation. In general, minimal sedation refers to a patient who has reduced anxiety but readily responds to verbal or physical stimulation. With moderate sedation the patient is even more relaxed, and will respond to purposeful stimulation. In deep sedation, the patient may not exhibit any signs of consciousness and therefore be unresponsive to stimulation.
Sedation by pharmacologic methods may be administered in several ways. These include medication that is swallowed, absorbed through the mucosa of the mouth, intravenous, inhalation, intramuscular, and submucosal administration, among others.