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Sleep Dentistry - An answer for the Dentally Nervous?



Daniel Daniel - If you are someone who doesn't like dental appointments- and I mean who REALLY doesn't like dental appointments, to begin being highly anxious, phobic or panicked about them- you could have wondered whether there's a way of having your dental treatment done without you the need to be aware of what's going on.

You will be pleased to know that there are options for people like yourself! Your dental treatment could be carried out in a Dentist's office while you're sedated using Intravenous Sedation in an appointment that is sometimes called "Sleep Dentistry".

It's important for you to know that "Sleep Dentistry" is really a misnomer- people seldom really drift off during a "Sleep Dentistry" appointment. However, most people who receive "Sleep Dentistry" will have an experience that they will interpret as 'I was asleep for my dental work'. Let's see what that basically means...

"Intravenous Sedation" is a term that describes the method of giving sedative drugs to someone through a vein. A lines are set up into the vein, whereby a registered practitioner administers the sedative medications. The individual rapidly becomes drowsy and relaxed, and also the dental treatment is done whilst they remain in this heavily sedated state. The sedatives used are strong, and do take many hours to wear off. However, people generally only need to remain under supervision in the dental office for a short period after their appointment. When they are sufficiently recovered to go away the dental office, they do so under the supervision of your adult family member or friend, who then needs to stay with them in your house until the effects of the sedation are completely gone.

This type of sedation is additionally called 'Conscious Sedation' because the patient remains conscious all the time during the appointment (unlike a broad anaesthetic where these are completely unconscious). Patients will often be so relaxed that they may doze off a little, if the dentist asks them a question they are easily roused and will generally answer it.

You may be wondering how a conscious patient could ever talk about intravenous sedation as "Sleep Dentistry"?

The answer lies in one of the unwanted side effects of the sedative drugs which are used: most patients undergoing intravenous sedation will experience some level of amnesia. They will often remember arriving at the dental office, they may remember elements of the trip home, nevertheless they seldom remember many details in any respect about the dental treatment itself. As far as they are concerned, they were 'asleep' during the entire appointment- hence the description "Sleep Dentistry".

Intravenous Sedation for Dentistry is not without risks, however your dentist will always discuss these with you before you make your appointment. Merely a well-trained and registered group of professionals can deliver this kind of sedation. It's for this reason that only a few Dental Practices ever offer the service. Your National Dental Association are able to help you find an appropriately qualified and registered practice locally.

Of course, intravenous sedation for dentistry will not cure a dental phobia or high dental anxiety. It lets you do, however, provide an selection for people who otherwise might not seek the dental treatment they need, and knowing that it is available can make patients feel far more relaxed about ongoing dentistry.