Eastman Dental Institute


The continuing evolution of conscious sedation

15 May 2020

Dental sedation

By Dr David Murphy, Programme Director, Dental Sedation and Pain Management Certificate

Conscious sedation across all healthcare fields, and especially dentistry, continues to grow and develop as a safe and important adjunct to delivering specialist procedures to a wide variety of patient groups. This growth is now beginning to really accelerate, driven by clinician experience, industry focus on new sedative agents, and patients’ needs and expectations. 

The benefits of conscious sedation including improved patient satisfaction, fewer side effects than general anaesthesia, and greater cost effectiveness, are widely accepted. This has made conscious sedation a much sought after service in contemporary dental practice and one that appears simple to deliver at first look. 

One only has to look at national guidelines, however, to see how much needs to be done to deliver a relaxed sedation experience. Increasingly we are learning that although knowledge and experience of sedative agents is important, it’s the often unseen elements of service design, patient selection, and thoughtful foresight that make safe sedation practice appear so effortless.

UCL Eastman Dental Institute has long been at the forefront of education in conscious sedation for dental practitioners, delivering world-class education in a friendly and open community. It has been my privilege to take the baton from Prof James Roelofse and I hope to maintain the excellent standards he set that have given the programme its strong reputation.

We have made some operational changes to the programme which now runs from September to June alongside the usual university life cycle. Our learning materials follow the patient journey with greater emphasis on online learning that has really come into its own during the pandemic. 

It has been my pleasure to welcome Dr Azher Ashraf and Dr Chandana Rao to the team who bring extensive expertise in anaesthesia and dental sedation. Clinical placements are now hosted by Sterling Dental College led by Dr Harjhot Khambay. Dr Isabelle Holroyd continues to share her unparalleled expertise in paediatric and inhalational sedation. 

Covid-19 makes the future shape of UK dentistry somewhat difficult to predict with consequent uncertainty around the delivery of specialist education. One thing that is certain is our commitment to preserving patient safety by maintaining the highest educational standards that have given UCL and Eastman Dental Institute their world-class reputations.

Drugs and monitoring are good but its the engagement of a demonstrably capable and thoughtful practitioner that allow the patient to fully relax for treatment. As we move through uncertain times, the team and I look forward to meeting the challenge of training such practitioners and very much hope that you will join us for the journey. 

Find out more about our Dental Sedation and Pain Managmenet Certificate course