Sedation dentistry, also known as sleep dentistry, is a relatively new specialisation in dentistry but its importance in the maintenance of dental health among children, adults and elderly patients cannot be underestimated. For one thing, individuals with extreme fears regarding needles – or even just the thought of sitting on the dentist’s chair –will benefit from it mainly because of their level of unconsciousness during the procedure itself. For another thing, dentists will have an easier time performing the required procedure with the patient in a sedated state.
Patient and dentist benefit from sleep dentistry in so many ways! But as with all aspects of life where health is concerned, knowledge is empowerment so it pays to be informed about sedation dentistry.
Sleep dentistry is a specialised branch of dentistry requiring postgraduate education and advanced training. An aspiring sedation dentist must then comply with the requirements set by the state for the profession as well as the requirements of industry organizations like the Australian Society of Dental Anaesthesiology; the latter caters to the special needs of sedation dentists in the administration of sedatives as well as in pain control and patient anxiety management.
Tip: Ask for the dentist’s credentials in sedation dentistry before consenting to any procedure requiring the use of sedatives administered in any manner. Keep in mind that even the safest sedatives have side effects when administered inappropriately.
Benefits of Sedation
Why are the services of the best sedation dentist in, say, Melbourne popular? Because of the many benefits of sedation dentistry including the following:
- Increased comfort and relaxation coupled with lessened pain sensations for the patient
- Better control over the gag reflex and movement of the patient
- Little or no memory of the treatment, thus, lessening the mental trauma from dental visits
- Lesser physical trauma since the dentist can perform his work as planned without the constant movement from the patient
- Lesser time spent on the procedure and, hence, lesser number of visits required
- It is, indeed, a win-win solution!
Preparation for Sedation
Before coming in to your appointment, you must adopt a few preparatory measures to ensure that the procedure goes as planned. Safety precautions in sedation dentistry include:
- Avoid eating and drinking any food and beverage after midnight on the day of your surgery. (If your surgery is scheduled at 9AM, don’t eat and drink anything starting at 12:01 AM) If you must take your regular medications with the consent of your dentist – many medications can interact with sedatives – just do so with a small sip of water.
- Bring a container in which to place dentures, partial plates or removable bridge works while at the dental clinic. Remove your contact lenses, if advised by your dentist, too.
Most important, you should have a relative or a friend by your side on the day of your sedation dentistry procedure. Keep in mind that you are not allowed to drive yourself because of the aftereffects of the sedative used.
Depending on the sedative used, its administration can come in three forms, namely: (Note: Only a professional trained in sedation dentistry should administer these sedatives)
- Oral conscious sedation. The oral sedative will relieve your stress and anxiety about the procedure although you will still be conscious during the entire time. In fact, you will still be able to follow the dentist’s instructions.
- Inhalation sedation. The main sedative used is nitrous oxide (laughing gas), which dentists prefer because of its fast effect on the patient but the recovery time is just as fast.
- Intravenous (IV) sedation. This involves the injection of the sedative directly into your mainstream.
When you are sedated, your sedation dentist will then start on the planned dental procedure – and that is why sedation dentistry is welcome news for those who want to have little to no memory of an otherwise traumatic procedure for some.