What is Sleep Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry or Sleep dentistry simply means, use of sedation while treating dental patients. In general, these sedatives help dental patients to relax while undergoing dental procedures.

This article focuses on sleep dentistry, its benefits, and the types of sedation used.

Some people try to avoid visiting dental clinics out of fear. Particularly, dental surgeries induce fear, apprehension, and anxiety in most of them. Sleep dentistry helps such people by providing relaxation and calmness using specialized medication.

What Types of Sedation are Used in Sleep Dentistry?

There are four types of sedation commonly used during dental procedures. Typically, they are used at different levels such as minimum, moderate, and High or deep, as explained below:

1.) Nitrous oxide (Laughing Gas) – Minimal Sedation

In this method, the patients are made to inhale Nitrous oxide and oxygen mixture using a mask positioned over the nose. If required, the dentists can adjust the gas levels.

Typically, the patients can enjoy a sense of calmness and sense the happenings during the procedure. This is the simplest, minimalistic form of sedation. The patients can drive themselves home after completing the procedure.

2.) Halcion Pill (Oral Sedation) – Moderate Sedition

Before an hour of the procedure, the dental experts ask the patients to swallow the Halcion pill. This amounts to minimal sedation. If required, they may increase the dosage amounting to moderate sedation.

After consuming the pill, the patients would feel drowsy. They may even fall asleep while being treated. In fact, this is the most common sedation method used in sleep dentistry.

3.) Intravenous Sedation (IV) – Moderate Sedation

In this method, the dental experts pass on the sedative drug directly into the bloodstream. This method sedates the patients faster.

Typically, they inject a needle (connected to the intravenous tube) into the patient’s vein. Then, they pass the sedative drug through the intravenous tube.

4.) Anesthesia – Deep Sedation

In this method, the dentists medicate the patients to make them partly or fully unconscious, throughout the procedure. Unless the anesthesia effects wear off or reverse medication is given, the patients remain in an unconscious state.

If required, the dentists may give additional numbing medication to relieve the pain, regardless of the sedation types used.

Benefits of Sleep Dentistry

Sleep dentistry is useful to patients in many ways as stated below:

1.) Controls Anxiety

While visiting dental clinics, some people become nervous. Sometimes, the fear overwhelms them and also cripples them. As a result, they panic, especially during the procedure.

Typically, this affects the quality of treatment. Sleep dentistry helps such patients to control their anxiety and remain calm during the procedure.

2.) Suppresses Pain

In general, minor surgeries can be done with local anesthesia. However, dental implantation, tooth removal, root canal, etc. require sedation to minimize or neutralize the pain.

3.) Manages Triggers

In fact, just a sight of the dental clinic is enough to induce fear in some people. The smell, sounds, etc., add to the fear of such patients. Hence, sedation is essential to lower the trigger impacts in such patients.

4.) Manages Mental Trauma

In most cases, a single uncomfortable experience can develop dental fears in the minds of the patients. This causes disinclination towards oral health care in most people.

Typically, sedative medications prevent the further formation of such memories during medical procedures. They also manage the past mental scars and minimize the traumatic remnants.

5.) Controls Gag Reflex

Generally, the throat contracts when something touches the back of the throat/tongue, the roof of the mouth, tonsil areas, etc. This is called gag reflex.

If you have a sensitive gag reflex, you may develop an urge to sputter or choke when medical tools are used inside the mouth. Typically, this causes uncomfortableness while undergoing dental procedures.

Sedative medications can halt the gagging responses for a definite period. Hence, they become necessary while performing dental treatments.

Eligibility for Sleep Dentistry

Generally, all healthy adults can take sedation medications. They are completely safe, particularly when handled by experienced dentists. In any case, your dentist may ask you some questions related to your health before giving sedation. If needed, he may test you clinically.

You may not be eligible to receive sleep sedation under certain circumstances. They include allergic to sedation, pregnancy, and breastfeeding mothers.

Similarly, if you suffer from diseases related to obesity or obstructive sleep apnea, inform your dentist. These diseases may develop complications, especially when sedated with anesthesia.

Selecting Dentists

Generally, most dentists can perform minimal sedation. Many of them can handle moderate sedation also. However, only a few of them who completed the CODA Program are eligible to perform deep sedation (using Anesthesia). In most cases, these dentists are maxillofacial/oral surgeons.

Some dentists make use of dental anesthesiologists to give deep sedation. Typically, these trained professionals can perform sedations at all levels, both in adults and children.

In general, the state dental boards regulate the usage of sedative medication techniques carefully. In some states, dentists cannot perform sedative medications unless they have permits.

How Trained Dentists Perform Sedation Procedures H2

Make sure, your dentist is qualified to perform sedation medications.

1.) Before the procedure, trained dental professionals go through your medical history. They also ask some questions regarding your health and the medications you are currently taking. Finally, they decide whether you are eligible to undergo sedation.

2.) After determining the eligibility, they select the dosage for sedation according to your health condition and age. This dosage must be within the limits as prescribed by FDA.

3.) Then, the dental team will give you a form that explains the risks associated with the procedure and discuss the same with you.

4.) During the procedure, the dental experts will monitor your body conditions as per the ADA (American Dental Association) guidelines. The dental clinics will readily have reverse sedation medications, oxygen, and other artificial ventilation equipment.

5.) After the procedure, you may need to stay in hospital for a few hours to a day or so depending on the treatment given.

In simple terms, the more experienced your dentist is, the better you would feel while undergoing sleep dentistry.

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