Sleep Dentistry: Helping Patients Relax During Dental Procedures

Girl having a dental treatmentIt’s normal for some patients to experience anxiety when visiting a dentist. But for those who have extreme anxiety attacks when undergoing a dental procedure, oral health experts like ORA Dental recommend sleep dentistry methods.

Sedation Dentistry

Sleep dentistry is more commonly called sedation dentistry. It uses medication to help a patient relax during oral surgery. The sedation has four levels: minimal sedation, where the patient is relaxed and fully conscious; moderate sedation or conscious sedation, where the patient has slurred speech and may not remember the procedure; deep sedation, which brings the patient to the edge of sleep, but can be woken up with a gentle judge; and general anesthesia, where the patient is unconscious.

Types of Sedation

Sedation is achieved via different methods: inhaled minimal sedation using nitrous oxide; oral sedation with the use of a pill; IV moderate sedation; and deep sedation and general anesthesia. Inhaled minimal sedation uses nitrous oxide, commonly called laughing gas. This is mixed with oxygen and administered with the use of a mask placed over the nose. This method is a standard tool of dentists, and the volume can be easily controlled. The effects wear off easily, and the patient can drive home afterwards.

Oral sedation usually uses Halcion, a medication from the Valium group. This is what is commonly associated with sleep dentistry. The medication is taken an hour before the procedure, with a larger dose resulting in moderate sedation. IV moderate sedation uses an intravenous feed through the vein resulting in a fast response. The patient can go through deep sleep and would require the effects to wear off on its own or be woken with a different medication.

With IVS, the patient can still respond to verbal commands or gentle touches. The aim is to keep the patient in a state where the airway is clear with adequate ventilation. This method requires some training or the assistance of a certified dental anesthesiologist.

Sedation dentistry is important in rendering a patient in a relaxed state. There are sedation states and methods which require advanced training or the assistance of a dental anesthesiologist.