Aussie experts warn of conscious sedation risks

Conscious sedation is growing in popularity in Australia, but dental experts warn some dentists may be putting patients at risk by using the technique without proper training.

Dentist Harry Marget, who operates a Melbourne practice specializing in sedation dentistry, said unless such procedures are done with an anesthesiologist, it is unsafe and potentially fatal, according to a story in the Age. Dentists should be banned from administering sedatives while simultaneously monitoring the patient and performing dental work, he said.

During a dental procedure, if you don't montior the patient's airway and a small piece of amalgam falls down the throat and the patient chokes, it can be fatal, Dr. Marget told the Age.

The number of patients at his practice who request sedation has grown to about 20 a day, from just a few a week previously, he said.

The Australian Society of Dental Anaesthesiology (ASDA) has condemned promoting sedation dentistry in radio advertisements, saying the technique should be reserved for extreme cases such as patients with phobias, disabilities, or severe dental problems, according to the story.

Two Australian patients have died while undergoing sedation dentistry in the past 20 years, according to the ASDA. Four pediatric patients have died in the past 15 months in the U.S. after undergoing sedation prior to dental treatment.

The Australian Dental Association defended the practice of simultaneously performing dentistry and conscious sedation, the Age reported.

Many U.S. dental experts concur, asserting that sedation is safe if done correctly and that it is routinely used without problems.

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