Dental Anxiety Solutions: What is Sleep Dentistry?

Written by Dr. Reuben Sim
Published: 21-06-2023

Dental Anxiety Solutions What is Sleep Dentistry

Dental anxiety can be very distressing to cope with. It’s estimated that eight out of ten Australians have some level of dental anxiety.

If you experience dental anxiety, you may feel extremely stressed and worried before and during your dentist visit, or you may avoid dental appointments altogether.

While avoiding the dentist will alleviate anxiety in the moment, it can also pave the way for serious health problems down the line. Your overall health, speech, confidence and mental health can all be adversely impacted by poor oral health.

Dental anxiety can be difficult to navigate, but with the right interventions, you will be able to visit the dentist feeling calm, comfortable and confident.

Sleep dentistry is one of the most common solutions to dental anxiety.

But what is sleep dentistry and how does it work?

Our expert dentists explain.

What is Sleep Dentistry?

Sleep dentistry refers to the administration of a sedative before a dental procedure.

These sedative medications are designed to relax you. Many patients become so relaxed that they fall asleep.

If you’re feeling anxious about an upcoming treatment or you’re preparing for a very long dental procedure, sleep dentistry can help you feel calmer before, during and after your treatment.

Types of Sleep Dentistry

Now that we know what sleep dentistry is, let’s explore the four different types of sleep dentistry.

Your dentist will suggest one of the four types depending on your level of dental anxiety, how long the procedure will go for and whether or not you have pre-existing medical conditions.

  • Nitrous Oxide: Also known as ‘laughing gas’, nitrous oxide is administered via a mask or nosepiece. It has a relaxing effect that begins three minutes after it is administered. Your dentist will control your sedation levels during the procedure and will flush out the nitrous oxide with pure oxygen once the procedure has concluded. The effects of this sedation wear off very quickly, so you will be able to drive yourself home after your procedure.
  • Oral Conscious Sedation: The next level of sedation is oral medication. You will be given a sedative in pill-form an hour before your procedure. Dentists typically use Triazolam or Midazolam. The medication will make you feel groggy and you might even fall asleep. If you are given oral sedative medication, you will need someone to drive you home from your appointment.
  • IV Sedation: Intravenous sedation is the second-highest level of sleep dentistry. Sedatives will be delivered to your bloodstream to keep you relaxed (in most cases, patients fall asleep while under IV sedation). Your heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels will be monitored during the procedure. IV sedation is best for people with severe anxiety or for people undergoing lengthy dental procedures.
  • General Anesthesia: GA is the highest level of sleep dentistry. It is typically reserved for patients whose anxiety cannot be managed through pharmacological interventions. It’s mostly recommended for patients with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities, complex medical situations or extreme dental phobia.

At a glance, the levels of sleep dentistry are as follows

  1. Minimal Sedation: You will be awake but relaxed.
  2. Moderate Sedation: You won’t remember much of the procedure but you will be conscious.
  3. Deep Sedation: You are almost unconscious but can be woken up.
  4. General Anaesthesia: You are completely unconscious.

How Does Sleep Dentistry Work?

How Does Sleep Dentistry Work

This depends on which kind of sleep dentistry you are given. You may need to take a pill before your procedure or have an IV inserted while in the chair.

The first three levels of sleep dentistry are preferred over general anaesthetic as they allow you to recover much more quickly.

After your treatment, you will be weaned off your sedation and your dentist will give you time to wake up properly before sending you home.

Why Use Sleep Dentistry?

So, what is sleep dentistry’s purpose?

There are many reasons why you may be interested in sleep dentistry. It’s most commonly used in patients who

  • Have a fear of the dentist
  • Have a low pain threshold
  • Have sensitive teeth or gums
  • Have a strong gag reflex
  • Have previous traumatic dental experience
  • Require extensive or difficult dental work

However, sleep dentistry isn’t for everyone. You’ll need to consult with your dentist beforehand to determine whether or not sleep dentistry is right for you.

The majority of patients who use sleep dentistry report that visiting the dentist is now a much more comfortable experience.

Is Sleep Dentistry Safe?

When performed by a licensed, trained dentist, sleep dentistry is very safe.

Your dental team will be trained in monitoring your sedation levels and adjusting your dosage during your procedure.

There are some short-term risks to be aware of before undergoing sleep dentistry. You may experience drowsiness, dry mouth, nausea, headaches and bruising from your medication or IV.

Some people experience an allergic reaction to the sedative, but your dentist will have special medicines on-hand that can reverse the reaction.

How Much Does Sleep Dentistry Cost?

How Much Does Sleep Dentistry Cost

Oral health and hygiene is essential to every single person, which is why we endeavour to offer affordable and accessible dental treatments for all Australians.

So, how much is sleep dentistry?

The cost of your sleep dentistry treatment will depend on the type of dental procedure you’re receiving, the type of sedation your dentist is using and how long the treatment is predicted to take.

We believe everyone deserves to have a healthy smile they can feel proud of, which is why we offer payment plans for many of our dental procedures.

Your insurer may also cover sedation in your extras cover, depending on your plan.

Get in touch with us for more information on sleep dentistry costs.

Sleep Dentistry Reviews & Testimonials

Sleep dentistry has made a real impact on patients who suffer from debilitating dental anxiety.

If you suffer from dental phobia, you no longer need to neglect your oral health and suffer from the consequences.

Take our patients’ words for it – sleep dentistry can help to see you through your dental appointments with ease so that you can enjoy a healthy smile.

What is Sleep Dentistry? Your Dental Anxiety Solution

If you’ve ever experienced dental anxiety, you’ve likely wondered, what is sleep dentistry?

Fortunately, sleep dentistry is an accessible solution to dental anxiety.

Sleep dentistry allows your dentist to administer a sedative before carrying out your dental procedure. This will help you feel calm, comfortable and, in many cases, completely unaware that the procedure is taking place.

For most patients with dental anxiety, sleep dentistry offers immense relief and comfort.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about what sleep dentistry is and how it can work for you.

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