Understanding Sleep Sedation: Your 7 Step Guide

How easy would a trip to the dentist be if you could just drift off to dreamland, while they get down to the important business of your dental health? Well, through sleep sedation it’s actually possible. Put simply, sleep sedation uses medication to help people relax during dental procedures and it can be used for everything from more invasive procedures to simple tooth cleaning.

Patients still remain awake during sedation dentistry, so the name sleep sedation (or sleep dentistry) isn’t entirely accurate. But you often won’t remember what happened, feeling like you’ve just woken from a good sleep.


When would I need sleep sedation?

There are many reasons you may want to opt for sleep sedation. First of all, the type procedure itself! Our mouths are sensitive places and a lot of dental work (big and small) needs anesthesia to take the pain away. But for many, the idea of mouths and needles just do not pair well. 

Yes, we flinched when we wrote that too! 

Sleep sedation can also be useful in combating emotional and physical responses. Under the dreamy blanket that sleep sedation casts over you, you’ll be none the wiser to the procedure or any of the stressors that go along with it.


What sleep sedation can help

The big bad dentist isn’t really big, or bad. But dentophobia is 100% alive and well. Maybe you’ve grown up with your parents telling you just how nasty a dentist trip is. Perhaps you’ve got anxiety around pain. Or maybe you just don’t like the idea of things touching your mouth. These are all emotional triggers that can activate around a visit to the dentist or a scheduled dental procedure.

Sleep sedation mellows out your fears and anxieties so you can keep on top of your dental health.

We also see sleep dentistry help many physical responses and beyond. Sleep sedation can:

  • Help manage anxiety about the dentist

  • Manage pain. Under sedation your dental work will be a pain free breeze.

  • Reduce involuntary physical responses like uncontrollable gag reflexes.

  • Keep you in the dental chair longer so multiple procedures can be performed in one sitting.

This all adds up to faster, easier and less stressful dental work.


How does sleep sedation work?

We know the idea of floating off on a comfortable cloud is a much more enticing experience than sitting awake through a dental procedure. But how exactly does sleep sedation get you to this desired outcome? Well, it involves administering medication that gently puts you into what is described as a ‘dream state’.

To get to this state there are three different types of sedation used in Perth (and most of Australia) you and your dentist can choose:

  • Minimal sedation in the form of nitrous oxide or laughing gas 

  • Moderate sedation taken as an oral sedative, or

  • Deep sedation which is administered by an IV drip.

The type of sedation that is suitable for you will be dictated by your dentist and will come down to a range of factors we’ll drill into shortly. (Pardon the pun!) Once administered you’ll drift off, mostly unaware of the procedure and completely free of pain.

Best of all, sleep sedatives are processed in your body quickly. So with a light sedation, you may only have to wait a small time frame before it may be possible to jump in the car and drive home. After a deep sedation you’ll feel back to normal within a few hours or so.


What you feel during sedation

With sleep sedation you feel no discomfort and you’ll have little to no memory of the dental treatment or procedure. Just like a local anaesthetic, under lighter sedation you may feel slight sensations of movement, but no pain. And there’s a good chance you won’t remember anything at all under deep sedation.

Pain free and stress free – exactly how it should be!



Sleep sedation vs general anaesthetic

So you’re probably curious as to why we don’t suggest you just go and get a general anesthetic. Well there are a few very good reasons we may recommend sleep sedation above it.

#1 – Ease and cost

Firstly, dental procedures under a sleep sedative can be done with ease at the dental surgery. All procedures done under general anaesthesia must be performed in a hospital under the administration of an anaesthetist, which all together can cost a small fortune. Sleep sedation is safely performed by a highly trained sleep sedation dentist right in the dental chair and immediately reduces the cost of your dental work. We see this as a very big benefit.

#2 – Recovery time

Another important difference is recovery time. General anesthetics put a lot of pressure on the body and it can take a few days or longer to fully feel back to normal. Lighter sedation methods have less of an ‘after’ effect so you bounce back faster.


The long term benefits of sleep sedation

Ultimately, you want your dental work to be a breeze, right? Even when it comes to the big things. Sleep sedation is an easy, pain free answer that will make a world of difference to how you approach your dental health now and into the future. 

  • You’ll be confident your procedure will be pain free

  • You’ll feel less anxiety about follow-up visits to the dentist 

  • You stop delaying important procedures, and  

  • You’ll stop ignoring those niggles in your mouth that could snowball into greater issues.

To discuss sleep sedation with one of our Claremont Dental dentists, book your appointment today.

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