Fear of the dentist is one of the most common adult fears in the Western world. Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide are filled with anxiety at the mere suggestion of going to the dentist, and many of these people will actively avoid going to the dentist altogether if they can. However, avoiding the dentist can have a serious effect on dental health, which may actually mean that in the long run, these people have to see much more of the dentist than they would like. Thankfully a technique known as sedation dentistry (or sleep dentistry) has been developed.
Sedation dentistry is now used across North America for procedures which should not normally need any kind of anesthetic. Both general and pediatric dentists are able to take continuing education courses in sedation dentistry, to enable them to offer a better class of service to their patients. In many cases, sedation can also make it much easier for the dentist to be able to do their job! Here are some of the main benefits that sleep dentistry has to offer to patients and dentists:
Patient relaxation – the patient feels more relaxed about having the treatment done, meaning that they are more open to having necessary treatments.
Increased comfort – patients experience less discomfort during procedures, meaning that the experience of visiting the dentist is less unpleasant for them.
Control of gag reflex – patients who are anxious about visiting the dentist may gag more often, making it harder for the dentist to do their job. Sedation dentistry will help to control a patient’s gag reflex.
Little or No Memory of Treatment – after sedation, the patient will have little or no memory of the treatment, so they will not be haunted by thoughts about the procedure later on.
Patient Co-operation – Dentists meet with less resistance from their patients, making it easier for them to work quickly and successfully.
Whilst many adverts refer to sedation dentistry as sleep dentistry, it does not usually involve being “put to sleep”, however patients may not respond to verbal or physical stimulation because the drugs they have been given have made them so calm and relaxed. These drugs help to suppress any feelings of anxiety or panic. Sedation drugs can be administered in 3 main ways – orally (liquid or tablet form), intravenously (through a drip connected to a vein) or via inhalation (through the administration of laughing gas). Whilst some dentists offer patients all of these options to patients, many dentists will eschew intravenous administration of drugs for smaller procedures, because attaching a drip may carry its own problems for exceedingly anxious patients.
Sleep dentistry is not right for everyone, and you should never feel pressurized into accepting any form of sedation if you do not feel comfortable with it. In fact, many people feel more comfortable when they are wide awake and the dentist is able to talk them through the treatment. However, finding a dentist who is qualified to offer sedation dentistry will allow you the freedom to choose your dentistry experience.