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Sleep Dentistry - A Solution for the Dentally Nervous?

Chris Hardwicke

If you are someone who doesn't like dental appointments- and I mean who REALLY doesn't like dental appointments, to the point of being highly anxious, phobic or panicked about them- you may have wondered whether there is a way of having your dental treatment done without you having to be aware of what's going on.

You'll be pleased to know that there are options for people such as yourself! Your dental treatment could be carried out in a Dentist's office while you are sedated using Intravenous Sedation in an appointment that is sometimes referred to as "Sleep Dentistry".

It's important for you to know that "Sleep Dentistry" is really a misnomer- people seldom really fall asleep during a "Sleep Dentistry" appointment. However, most people who receive "Sleep Dentistry" do have an experience that they will interpret as 'I was asleep for my dental work'. Let's see what that really means...

"Intravenous Sedation" is a term that describes the procedure of giving sedative drugs to a person through a vein. A line is set up into the vein, through which a registered practitioner administers the sedative medications. The patient rapidly becomes drowsy and relaxed, and the dental treatment is done whilst they remain in this heavily sedated state. The sedatives used are strong, and do take many hours to wear off. However, people generally only need to remain under supervision in the dental office for a short period after their appointment. When they are sufficiently recovered to leave the dental office, they do so under the supervision of an adult family member or friend, who then needs to stay with them at home until the effects of the sedation are completely gone.

This type of sedation is also called 'Conscious Sedation' because the patient remains conscious at all times during the appointment (unlike a general anaesthetic where they are completely unconscious). Patients will sometimes be so relaxed that they will doze off a little, but if the dentist asks them a question they are easily roused and will generally answer it.

You may be wondering how a conscious patient could ever refer to intravenous sedation as "Sleep Dentistry"?

The answer lies in one of the side effects of the sedative drugs that are used: most patients undergoing intravenous sedation will experience some level of amnesia. They may remember arriving at the dental office, they may remember parts of the trip home, but they seldom remember many details at all about the dental treatment itself. As far as they are concerned, they were 'asleep' during the entire appointment- hence the description "Sleep Dentistry".

Intravenous Sedation for Dentistry is not without risks, but your dentist will always discuss these with you before you make your appointment. Only a well-trained and registered team of professionals can deliver this form of sedation. It is for this reason that only a few Dental Practices ever offer this service. Your National Dental Association should be able to help you find an appropriately qualified and registered practice in your area.

Of course, intravenous sedation for dentistry will never cure a dental phobia or high dental anxiety. It does, however, provide an option for people who otherwise may not seek the dental treatment they require, and knowing that it is available can make patients feel a lot more relaxed about ongoing dental care.

About The Author

Chris Hardwicke is a dentist in Canberra, Australia. He owns the Corinna Dental Group, which has practices in Canberra (near the Canberra International Airport) and Woden (near Woden Plaza). The Corinna Dental Group provide many general and cosmetic dental services, including teeth whitening, porcelain veneers and implant dentistry. Several of the dentists have had specific training about anti-snoring devices, and work closely with local sleep physicians to help people with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. At the Woden practice, "Sleep Dentistry" or Intravenous Sedation Dentistry is offered to patients with high dental anxiety.

Appointments can be made at Corinna Dental Group Woden on (02) 6282 2605 or Corinna Dental Group Canberra on (02) 6257 0393. You can visit our website at http://corinnadental.com.au

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  • Last modified: Sat, 21 Jan 2012 18:36:29 GMT

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