Dentophobia? Here’s How Sleep Dentistry Can Help You

Lay down. Open up.
Bzzzzzz. Palms are getting sweaty.
Rrrrrrtt! Head is beginning to spin.
Poke, push. Get me outta here!

For some, a trip to the dentist can feel like a nightmare. But if it’s a beautiful dreamstate you want, there is a way to tame your toothy terrors.

It’s called sleep dentistry. And it can take the stress and strain out dental appointments. 

While our dentists will do everything they can to make you feel comfortable, some patients prefer to be asleep during their dental procedure or even their dental exams! Safe and soothing, there are a couple of different sedation options to choose from to ensure that you get the treatment you’re most comfortable with.

Read on to find out if sedation dentistry is a good fit for you, and what you need to know.


Dentophobia? No thanks. Make your trip to the dentist the easiest nap you’ve ever had!


Is sedation right for you?

Sedation and sleep dentistry can really help you if you experience anxiety or fear before your dental appointments, specifically if these worries relate to potential pain or discomfort. Patients who experience the greatest reward from sedation and sleep dentistry are those with: 

  • Phobias related to dental care 

  • Tender or especially sensitive oral nerves 

  • General anxiety 

  • Bad experiences from previous dental procedures

  • Sensitive gag reflexes

  • Complex dental problems

  • Smaller mouths prone to soreness during treatment. 


Steps to sedation dentistry

Step 1: Consultation

Both dentist and patient will decide together on the form of sedation that will suit best. This will often depend on the type of treatment required, the level of anxiety, patient age and any pre-existing medical conditions. Your dentist will give you detailed instructions before your sedation appointment and it is important these are followed to ensure maximum safety and comfort.


Step 2: Snooze time.

These are the following types of sedation available to you and that will be discussed with you prior to treatment. 

While there are varying side effects for each sedation type, they all carry very low risks when administered by a trained professional, as long as you disclose any medication being taken. The most significant side effect experienced with all sedation types is feeling groggy or “out of it” directly after treatment.

  • Oral Sedatives
    An oral sedative, like Valium, can be prescribed and taken before your treatment. They help tame those “pre-appointment butterflies” and make treatment much more comfortable, especially when taken the night before for a restful sleep. This is a great way to tackle minor anxieties and can be used in conjunction with other sedation treatments for maximum results

  • Nitrous oxide sedation (“laughing gas”)
    Nitrous oxide sedation  has been used for years to relax anxious patients. A mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen is inhaled through the nose via a small “hood”, making the patient relaxed and sleepy, with a feeling of well-being. When used on children, you might find that no local anaesthesia is required

  • Intravenous sedation
    Intravenous sedation is an effective way of providing anxiety relief and pain control during a range of dental procedures. You’ll receive a virtually painless injection into the forearm or back of the hand to administer a sedative medication (often combined with a pain killer). You’ll then, quickly and effortlessly, drift into a state of drowsiness where time passes quickly and your barriers and anxieties fall away, even for complex dental treatments. Your dentist may also use nitrous oxide to make it even more effective. This is what’s commonly known as “sleep dentistry” as most patients will feel like they have had a restful sleep during the procedure


Step 3: After treatment

You are likely to feel drowsy after treatment and arrangements must be made for a responsible adult to drive you home from the surgery. You will be recommended to rest for a few hours and give yourself the rest of the day to recover. It is important to remember that reflexes and judgement may be affected by the sedative for some time afterwards and you should avoid doing anything that requires you to be alert and coordinated for 24 hours after treatment, which includes driving. Your dentist and dental sedationist will go through all post-op instructions with your accompanying friend or family member and they will be written down for you.


While you’re asleep 

Once sedated, you will always remain under the care of a qualified staff member. Your dentist and nurse work together to make sure you get the highest standard of care and comfort possible. In Australia, sedation must be administered by a dentist with post-graduate training, using the most up-to-date techniques and tools to ensure that everything is safe and seamless. Because of these requirements dental sedation has an excellent safety record across the country. 


Side effects

Your dentist will look over your complete medical and dental history prior to treatment and will be able to identify if there are any extra risks that would make you more likely to have greater side effects to sedation. Things like age, health and medication history come in to play here and will be fully evaluated to make sure that any treatment given to you will be safe. This early evaluation means that when you do go in for your sedation, you can rest easy knowing you’re receiving the safest treatment possible. 


Dentophobia? No thanks. Make your trip to the dentist a breeze! If you’ve been putting off your checkup or avoiding the dentist altogether because of worry, give one of our friendly treatment coordinators a call to organise a stress free appointment and make managing your oral health as easy as falling asleep.

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