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Conscious Sedation in Dentistry

Published June 2017 (3rd Edition)
Reviewed and unchanged December 2022
(see 'Review and updating' below for details)


This publication is only available as a downloadable online resource. It is not available in print.

Supporting tools

NHS Education for Scotland provides a short educational module to support familiarisation with the guidance content via Turas Learn (1 hour verifiable CPD). 

About this guidance

This guidance aims to promote good clinical practice through recommendations for the safe and effective provision of conscious sedation for dental care. For the third edition, the guidance was subject to a thorough update using SDCEP’s NICE accredited methodology taking into account specific developments since it was first published in 2006. This included communication with the Intercollegiate Advisory Committee for Sedation in Dentistry (IACSD) regarding the IACSD Report, published in 2015. The dental faculties of the Royal Colleges of the UK and the Republic of Ireland all formally endorsed this guidance and the Royal College of Anaesthetists expressed its support of it.

NICE accredited

NICE has accredited the process used by the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme to produce its Conscious Sedation in Dentistry guidance. Accreditation is valid for 5 years from 15 March 2016. More information on accreditation can be viewed at

NICE accreditation was subsequently renewed in 2021 and is valid until 15 March 2026. Further information about NICE accreditation of SDCEP guidance can be viewed at NICE Accreditation.

Guidance development

The guidance is based on a review of available evidence and the opinion of dental and medical experts and experienced practitioners, and has been subject to open consultation and peer review prior to finalising for publication. The methodology used for the development of this guidance, including details of the evidence search strategy, evidence appraisals and information about conflict of interests can be found in the Conscious Sedation in Dentistry Methodology (PDF) document. Further information on the SDCEP guidance development process is available or contact the SDCEP office (

During the development process, potential barriers to the implementation of this guidance were identified. A Guidance Implementation Summary (PDF) of information about these is provided. For further details visit the TRiaDS website.

A Guidance Development Group comprising individuals from a range of branches of the dental profession and other disciplines, with expertise and experience in dental sedation, and two patient representatives was convened to update this guidance, working with members of SDCEP’s Programme Development Team.

SDCEP acknowledges the important contribution of all those who commented during the consultation and peer review stages.

Review and updating

In December 2022, SDCEP completed a surveillance review of the Conscious Sedation in Dentistry guidance topic to assess whether the recommendations in the guidance remain up to date. Although several of the guidelines that informed the guidance have been updated, no substantive changes to a key source, the Intercollegiate Advisory Committee for Sedation in Dentistry (IACSD) Report (updated in 2020) have been made. In addition, no significant changes in the evidence base that would impact on the key recommendations in the SDCEP guidance were found.

SDCEP has determined that until there is a further update to the IACSD Report, the Conscious Sedation in Dentistry guidance should remain unchanged. Further review of this guidance may be triggered if any significant developments are identified prior to the next scheduled review in 2027.

Further details of the surveillance review can be found in the Conscious Sedation in Dentistry 2022 review report.

Please note that some of the external weblinks included in the current guidance may have changed since its publication.

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