Best clinical practice guidance for conscious sedation of children undergoing dental treatment: an EAPD policy document

Eur Arch Paediatr Dent. 2021 Dec;22(6):989-1002. doi: 10.1007/s40368-021-00660-z. Epub 2021 Aug 28.


Background: Due to fear and/or behaviour management problems, some children are unable to cooperate for dental treatment using local anaesthesia and psychological support alone. Sedation is required for these patients in order for dentists to be able to deliver high quality, pain-free dental care. The aim of this guideline is to evaluate the efficacy and relative efficacy of conscious sedation agents and dosages for behaviour management in paediatric dentistry and to provide guidance as to which sedative agents should be used.

Methods: These guidelines were developed using a multi-step approach adapted from that outlined by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE (2020) Developing NICE Guidelines: the manual. . Accessed 7 Oct 2020). Evidence for this guideline was provided from a pre-existing Cochrane review (Ashley et al. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 12:CD003877, 2018) supplemented by an updated search and data extraction up to May 2020.

Results: Studies were from 18 different countries and had recruited 4131 participants overall with an average of 70 participants per study. Ages ranged from 0 to 16 years with an average age of 5.6 years across all included studies. A wide variety of drugs or combinations of drugs (n = 38) were used and delivered orally, intranasally, intravenously, rectally, intramuscularly, submucosally, transmucosally or by inhalation sedation. Twenty-four different outcome measures for behaviour were used. The wide range of drug combinations and outcome measures used greatly complicated description and analysis of the data.

Conclusion: Oral midazolam is recommended for conscious dental sedation. Midazolam delivered via other methods or nitrous oxide/oxygen sedation could be considered, but the evidence for both was very low.

Keywords: Dental; Midazolam; Nitrous oxide; Paediatric; Sedation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anesthesia, Dental*
  • Anesthetics, Inhalation*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Conscious Sedation
  • Dental Care for Children*
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Midazolam
  • Nitrous Oxide
  • Policy


  • Anesthetics, Inhalation
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Nitrous Oxide
  • Midazolam