Dental Health Info Article

Sleep Dentistry

A mixture of pain relievers and sedatives makes sleep dentistry a breeze but not quite a snore.

Dental phobia is real. Someone who experiences dental phobia can have a negative response to even entering a dental office. If you happen to be someone who hasn’t been to the dentist in a while because you’re too afraid to go, there’s good news. You can find out from your dentist what options are available to help you manage the stress of having dental examinations and procedures done. One such option is sleep dentistry, also known as conscious sedation.

What is Sleep Dentistry?

Researchers from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden estimate that 1 in 20 people is deathly afraid of going to the dentist. While the Sahlgrenska study assessed how people cope with their own dental fear, many patients can now choose sleep dentistry as an effective way to minimize dental anxiety.

Don’t be misled by the name. Sleep dentistry involves using sedatives and pain relievers to help dental patients relax during dental examinations. Usually, patients will remain awake and alert, just without the overwhelming anxiety.

The Benefits of Selecting Sleep Dentistry

Conscious sedation is a useful anti-anxiety treatment used to address mild to severe dental phobia. Whether you just have the jitters when you sit down in the chair or you can’t bear the thought of even scheduling a dental appointment, conscious sedation can help. Along with local anesthetics, sleep dentistry can help you:

  • Relax and calm your nerves
  • Feel more comfortable with the dental procedure
  • Avoid restlessness as you go through a long procedure
  • Control a bad gag reflex 

Sedation dentistry helps minimize pain and discomfort during dental treatment. Unlike deep sedation, where dentists use general anesthesia, conscious sedation dentistry calms you without rendering you otherwise unresponsive. You will still be able to answer questions, ask questions, respond to touch, and communicate any discomfort you may be experiencing to your sedation dentist.

Relaxation Options

In addition to conscious sedation dentistry and general anesthesia, dentists who put you to sleep may also use:

  1. Inhalation Sedation to help you relax. Inhalation sedation is also called nitrous oxide or laughing gas, .
  2. Oral sedation drugs are usually taken either the night before the treatment or immediately before the dental appointment to help relax you and minimize pain. 
  3. Intravenous (IV) sedation is administered through the veins to get the sedative directly to your blood stream.

If you struggle with dental fear and anxiety, there are better options for dealing with the fear besides staying away from the dentists. Dental health is a crucial part of your overall health, so you need to make and keep your regular dental appointments. Sleep dentistry may the solution you need to help you protect your dental health while also protecting your emotional health.

Ask your sedation dentist about all your sedation options to help calm those dental-visit nerves. To find a great dentist near you, call us at 1-800-DENTIST. We can point you in the right direction.