Sleep dentistry allows dental patients with special needs or severe anxiety to undergo necessary dental treatment that otherwise couldn’t be performed without some type of sedation. Another benefit of sleep dentistry is that it allows for all of the necessary treatment to be completed in a single visit. Typically care is broken up into several appointments depending on what area of the mouth is to be treated. When a dental patient chooses sleep dentistry, they are comfortable for an extended period of time, allowing the dentist to access and care for all of their needs. This saves the patient additional visits to the office.
Patients can have sleep sedation performed in two different methods. The first option is to take an oral medication just before their scheduled appointment. Within about an hour, most patients have fallen into a soft sleep. If needed, an additional dose is given. This medication lasts for an extended amount of time and continues to wear off after the treatment is completed, allowing the patient to rest during their recovery.
The other alternative to sleep dentistry is by having intravenously administered sedation drugs at the time of the appointment. These take effect very quickly and last until the medication is cut off at the time the treatment is actually completed. The patient may still feel slightly dozy, but the medication will wear off quicker than patients who take an orally administered sedative.
Sedation dentistry is a great alternative for patients that dislike having dental treatment completed but truly have needs that must be addressed. All sleep dentistry patients will need to have a friend or family member escort them to and from their appointment, as it is unsafe to drive while medicated.
Sedation dentistry has ushered in a new era of safe, anxiety free, comfortable dentistry. Patients who have dreaded going to the dentist in the past are able to have pain free dental procedures thanks to advances in sedation dentistry.
Many dentists practice conscious sedation dentistry. Unlike sleep sedation or hospital sedation dentistry under general anesthesia, with conscious sedation dentistry the patient is never unconscious. In many cases, the patient is so relaxed that they doze off during the treatment, but they are always able to be aroused and can answer questions and communicate during the treatment.
Many patients mistakenly believe that they were unconscious during the treatment because they usually have very little memory of the procedure. To the patient, it seems like only a few minutes have passed during a procedure that may last an hour or longer.
Conscious sedation can be achieved either through oral medication taken prior to arriving at the dentist’s office or through administration of intravenous sedatives. Some patients prefer taking an oral medication to having an IV, but oral medications have some drawbacks. The sedative effect is much longer lasting so the patient needs someone to drive them to the dentist and home again.
With IV sedation, the sedative effect begins almost immediately after the sedative is administered and the effect wears off quickly following the procedure. In addition, the level of sedation is much easier to control with intravenous sedation. The amount of sedative delivered can be adjusted up or down to achieve the optimal level of sedation. Oral sedatives are much more difficult to control and the effect can be unpredictable.
IV sedation is more expensive than oral sedation, but the advantages generally outweigh the additional added expense.
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