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Sleep dentistry : What it is and is it ideal for you?

Most people suffer from dental anxiety and phobia right before a dental treatment and often skip crucial dental visits to avoid the discomfort, stress and fear. Sleep dentistry is a common approach to reduce such dental anxiety and phobia. Also known as sedation dentistry, it’s a technique used to calm a patient before beginning a dental procedure. When you opt for sleep dentistry, the dentist will use medications with sedating effects or general anesthesia to help you stay relaxed and more comfortable during a dental procedure. These medications will make you totally or partially unconscious. This form of dentistry has gained massive popularity throughout Newcastle and an increasing number of clients prefer it before undergoing a dental procedure. 

If you fear going to the dentist or feel overly anxious before undergoing a dental procedure, you might require sleep dentistry. It is best for patients who have a low tolerance for pain and find it difficult to stay calm and relaxed in a dentist’s chair. It is also suitable for people who have very sensitive teeth, bad gag reflex, and are about to undergo a complex dental procedure. 

Benefits of sleep dentistry

Let us break a common myth first! Most people believe that sleep dentistry or sedation dentistry will completely knock them out and put them to sleep during the dental procedure but it’s just a misconception! Sleep dentistry just helps the patients relax during the dental procedure. It does not actually put the patient to sleep, rather they remain awake and can even communicate with the dentist during the dental procedure. Only one type – general anesthesia is administered in a few cases where moderate sedation is required. It renders the patient completely unconscious so that the dentist can carry out the long dental procedure with ease. Below are the various benefits of sleep dentistry. Based on this, you can decide if you should give it a try. 

  • It induces calming effects and helps you relax your entire body during the dental procedure thus allowing the dentist to carry out the treatment with ease and success.
  • It eases dental anxiety and fear thus making the dental procedure quicker and smoother 
  • You remain pain free throughout the procedure and do not experience any discomfort. 
  • There is no memory of any part of the procedure whatsoever and so you would not remember anything after the dental procedure is complete. 
  • You’re fully awake and yet less anxious! Post sedation, you will still be able to communicate with the dentist during your dental procedure.
  • You can receive the dental care you need to without experiencing anxiety, pain and discomfort 
  • As you won’t have to skip the dental visits anymore, you can maintain a healthy mouth and improve your oral health as well. 

What Types of Sedation Are Used in Sleep Dentistry?

Below are the types of sedation used in sleep dentistry. The type of sedation will be recommended by your dentist. 

  • Inhaled minimal sedation – In this form of dentistry, the patient is made to breathe nitrous oxide combined with oxygen through a mask that’s placed over his/her nose. Also known as laughing gas, it is used to induce a state of relaxation. The gas tends to lose its impact quickly and hence you may be able to drive yourself home after the procedure.
  • Oral sedation – Depending on the dental procedure performed, the kind of oral sedation can range from minimal to moderate. For minimal sedation, the patient is given a pill about an hour before the procedure. The pill will make you drowsy, but you won’t completely fall asleep during the procedure. A larger dose may be given to produce moderate sedation which may actually cause the patient to sleep during the procedure. It is generally known as anesthesia and is used for deep sedation. 
  • IV moderate sedation – In this type of sleep dentistry, sedative drug is administered intravenously through a vein and so it works almost instantly. The dentist can continually adjust the level of sedation during the dental procedure. 
  • Deep sedation and general anesthesia – In the case of more complex and long procedures such as full mouth dental implants, your dentist will give you medications that will make you either partially unconscious or totally unconscious during the procedure. While you are under general anesthesia, you cannot easily be awakened unless the effect is reversed with medication. You shall continue to sleep until the anesthetic effect has worn off.

Is Sleep Dentistry Safe?

While you might think that being administered with anesthesia during dental procedure may be quite risky but it is usually a safe and successful procedure. The patient’s blood pressure, pulse etc is constantly monitored throughout the dental procedure. The important point is that it must be administered by an experienced dentist or health care professional only. Carry out a thorough background check to know if the dentist has thorough knowledge and experience in offering this form of service. 

Although it is usually safe but if you are obese or have obstructive sleep apnoea, it is advisable to consult professional health care personnel before being sedated as the anesthesia may result in other complications. Remember not to drive yourself after the dental procedure. 


If you experience dental anxiety and have difficulty staying relaxed in a dentist’s chair, sleep dentistry can help you remain calm and comfortable enabling the dental procedure to be completed with ease. If you are anxious about your dental treatment, you should discuss the sedation options with your dentist. 

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