Some types of dental procedures require sedation because of the pain that would otherwise be felt by the patient. Often, local anaesthetics are used for minor procedures, such as fillings, but extensive root canal work, for example, may need fuller sedation. However, this should not be confused with sedation dentistry — otherwise known as sleep dentistry — which is conducted for many different reasons. Essentially, a sleep dentist is a specialist who conducts their dental work with a fully sedated patient who would otherwise not be capable of enduring even a minor dental procedure.
Who Needs to See a Sleep Dentist?
Everyone should see their dentist every six months or so for a check-up. However, people who avoid seeing their dentist because they are fearful may benefit from more frequent inspections if they are sedated. Ideally, other techniques will be used to allay fears before sedation is used. However, where check-ups have not been conducted, certain procedures may be needed, which could otherwise have been avoided. If so, sedation dentistry may be the only option.
Bear in mind that fear of dentists is not always rational and no amount of reassurance may do the trick. Equally, minors and people with learning difficulties may not be able to understand what is going on in the dentist's chair. If so, a sleep dentist visit may be the only viable option.
What Sedatives Are Used in Sedation Dentistry
Typically, a sleep dentist will use one of three methods of sedating their patient on before carrying out their work. Intravenous anaesthetics are the most common these days. They are given by injection and will put patients into an appropriate state of consciousness given their age and the nature of the dental procedure to be carried out. That said, some people react badly to these sorts of sedatives and they may also suffer from phobias about needles. If so, oral sedatives may be offered instead. Often, drugs like diazepam won't put the patient fully to sleep but they will make them so drowsy that the dental procedure will go unnoticed. If that does not work, nitrous oxide — often known as laughing gas — is likely to be administered.
Is Sedation Dentistry Right For You?
Talk over your concerns with a sleep dentist before proceeding. Many people find that they can overcome some of their nervousness by being better informed about what will be involved. Inform you dentist of any additional conditions you have that may play a part in deciding how best to proceed. Disclosing disorders like a known resistance to local anaesthetics and general anxiety disorder will help to make the right decision in your case.
To learn more about the subject, reach out to a local sleep dentist.