Is Sleep Dentistry Right for You?

For many people, the very thought of making a trip to the dentist for a simple cleaning and examination can be nerve-wracking. Whether you need to make an unexpected visit for a toothache or you have a child who experiences anxiety when visiting the dentist, you may want to look into sedation dentistry. Also known as sleep dentistry, many offices are now offering this service to their clients – a truly wonderful and potentially life-changing option for those that let fear of dental work paralyse them or cause them to steer clear of the dentist altogether. Looking into sleep or sedation dentistry as an option can help you maintain great oral health for a lifetime.

Continue reading if you’d like to understand what sleep dentistry is and find out if it could benefit you or someone in your family.

What is Sleep Dentistry?

Sleep dentistry is just what it sounds like, except you won’t actually be asleep during the procedure. The process involves administering a form of sedation to help calm and relax patients during a visit to the dentist. There are various types of sedation that can be used in the process. Your sleep dentist will talk through all of the options with you prior to your procedure.

What Do They Use to Sedate You?

This depends on your personal level of anxiety and the procedure the dentist needs to perform. You can speak with your sleep dentist beforehand about which level of sedation is right for your unique situation. In general, there are 4 levels of sedation that are used in sleep dentistry. These include:

  • Complete or general anaesthesia – With this level of sedation, you’re completely unconscious and unaware and must be woken up medically.
  • Deep sedation – You’ll be virtually unconscious, but can still be woken up.
  • Moderate sedation – Under moderate sedation, you’ll likely not recall the procedure.
  • Minimal Sedation – Under minimal sedation, you’re completely conscious, but you should feel very relaxed.

You can be sedated in a number of ways depending on which level of sedation your sleep dentist decides to use. Options include inhaled sedation (i.e. laughing gas), oral sedation and IV sedation. If your dentist opts for oral sedation, you’ll be prescribed medication that you’ll need to take prior to your procedure. Nitrous oxide is typically the most commonly used option for sedating children, but it can also be used for treating adults.

Who Can Perform Sedation Dentistry?

Typically, dentists who use sleep dentistry that involves deep sedation and general anaesthesia are oral and maxillofacial surgeons or dentist anaesthesiologists. Such dentists must complete special training in order to offer this dental service.

Is It Safe?

While it’s considered to be safe, there’s always some degree of risk involved with being sedated. However, when handled by an experienced dentist or anaesthesiologist, it’s a very safe option for most people. There are certain health conditions that can make sleep dentistry more risky, such as obesity, so you should speak with your dentist to make sure they understand your situation.