Some dental procedures are simple and don’t cause any real anxiety for patients. Others can be intimidating. Since delaying a procedure is not in your best interests, it makes sense to talk with your dental professional about what can be done. Sleep dentistry may be the answer. Here are some things you should know about this process and why it’s becoming more popular.
The Basics of Sleep Dentistry
Some may be confused about the difference between sleep dentistry and sedation dentistry. Part of the reason for the confusion is that the terms are often used interchangeably. Using both terms to refer to the same approach is not actually accurate.
True sleep dentistry involves using a general anesthesia to put the patient to sleep. This is sometimes the case when there is the need for more complex dental procedures. For example, general anesthesia may be called for if the patient has been in a severe accident and the reconstruction work will take several hours.
What Sort of Procedures May Call for This Solution?
Dentists consider placing a patient under anesthesia something that should only be used in specific situations. Cosmetic surgery that becomes necessary as the result of an auto accident or some type of fall would often qualify. Prolonged procedures, like wisdom teeth removal that would likely require multiple administrations of numbing agents or some type of gas to keep the patient somewhat comfortable would also be grounds for placing the patient into a state of sleep.
If you are having a procedure like the installation of porcelain veneers, basic sedation could be all that you need. This is especially true if you are not dealing with an additional health issue that would complicate the process. For example, the dentist would tend to consider sleep dentistry if you had a severe anxiety disorder and sedating you with the use of gas or oral medication is not enough to keep you in a relatively calm state.
Am I Really Asleep?
With sedation dentistry, you are not fully asleep. You may be partially aware of what is happening while being unaware of how much time has passed. Generally, you feel calm and your mind wanders to things other than the procedure you are undergoing. Even so, you remain conscious enough to respond to basic instructions from the dentist, such as to keep your mouth open.
With true sleep dentistry, you are in a state much like you would be during a surgical procedure. Most patients are aware they are getting drowsy, then fall asleep. The next thing they know, they are waking up and the procedure is over. The staff monitors the patient closely for any after-effects of the anesthesia and only releases the person to the care of a friend or relative after determining there are no complications.
How Will I Feel Afterward?
Many dentists report their patients feel somewhat disoriented for a few minutes after waking. As the effects of the anesthesia fade, the patient becomes more coherent and is capable of responding to simple questions. During this time, your thoughts may seem a little scattered and you’ll find it difficult to focus. As the effects wear off, you become more alert and in control of your thoughts and actions.
The Popularity of Sedation and Sleep Dentistry
Many patients today actively inquire about sedation and sleep dentistry when they are about to undergo a more complex procedure. The reason is obvious: they don’t have to deal with pain during the procedure or encounter any of the fears that they have about undergoing the treatment. The fact they can drift off and be comfortable for however long it takes to get the work done makes this a wonderful solution for patient and dental professional alike.
Talk with your dentist about using sleep or sedation dentistry for an upcoming procedure. The dentist will make a recommendation based on the nature of the treatment, your general health, and any medications you currently take. Together, it is possible to settle on the approach that provides the relief you want and has the least chance for complications.