If you suffer from a dental phobia or a fear of the dentist or dental procedures, know that you’re certainly not alone.
Many people struggle with dental-related fears and anxieties, commonly deriving from a previous negative experience at the dentist’s office, among other potential causes and triggers.
These worries can range from mild to severe, usually causing patients to put off necessary dental work, and often leading to the gradual deterioration of one’s oral health and self-esteem.
The good news is that sedation or sleep dentistry can help anxious patients to effectively manage their fears while providing a host of additional benefits, even for patients who aren’t particularly dental-phobic.
What exactly is sleep dentistry?
Before getting into the benefits of sleep dentistry, it’s beneficial for every patient to know exactly what sleep dentistry is, in addition to the role that it plays in the dentistry field.
While the word “sleep” is included in the term, “sleep dentistry” generally describes “sedation dentistry,” which represents a treatment approach involving the use of medications to assist in the dental care of patients.
With that being said, there are several different methods and levels of sedation offered by dental practices—such as Downtown Sleep Dentistry and Oral Surgery—that are safely and successfully used to benefit patients and trained practitioners alike during procedures.
The Top Benefits of Sleep Dentistry
Listed below are six appreciable benefits that sleep or sedation dentistry is known to provide:
1. Sleep dentistry greatly reduces feelings of anxiety and discomfort for the patient
Perhaps the number one benefit of sleep dentistry is its ability to provide a much more calming and stress-free dental care experience for patients, especially if they are particularly anxious about their treatment or about dentistry in general.
Depending on the level of sedation administered, patients may be fully conscious but feel more at ease with a calm and peaceful state-of-mind or entirely unconscious for the duration of their procedure,
This leads to the next benefit of sleep dentistry.
2. There are varying levels of sedation patients can choose from
At Downtown Sleep Dentistry and Oral Surgery, we provide three main options for sedation.
Depending on the situation, this may afford patients the ability to choose the level of sedation they feel most comfortable with, even if the procedure doesn’t traditionally require it.
For example, we are one of the few clinics that provide dental cleanings with sedation, for adults who experience moderate to severe anxiety around these proceedings.
The first type of dental sedation we can provide is inhaled sedation, otherwise known as nitrous oxide or “laughing gas,” which is an oxygen mixture provided to the patient via a mask over the nose.
It successfully allows patients with mild anxiety to feel relaxed and comfortable, even giggly (hence its alternate name), during their treatment.
The second option for sedation is oral sedation, which provides an increased level of sedation from nitrous oxide. This is generally taken in the form of a pill or drink, and can even be combined with laughing gas for an increased calming effect.
The third and deepest level of sedation is deep IV sedation or general anesthesia, which is generally administered intravenously and allows the patient to be fully unconscious (or asleep) during the entirety of their treatment. This level of sedation is ideal for the most anxious of patients and is often necessary for more lengthy, complex, or surgical dental procedures.
3. Sleep dentistry helps the dental practitioner or oral surgeon operate with more ease
For certain procedures or for patients who have trouble sitting still and/or struggle with a sensitive gag reflex, it may be necessary to use deeper (unconscious) sedation.
This helps to ensure that the treatment can be carried out safely and without complications, such as accidental injury resulting from sudden movement from the patient.
4. Sedation can reduce the number of dental visits required
The use of sleep dentistry can help to speed up the duration of dental treatments, often allowing the entire procedure to be carried out in a single dental visit as opposed to multiple visits.
This is much more convenient for the patient and the doctor.
5. Sleep dentistry enables patients to achieve necessary dental work they otherwise may have neglected
The longer an anxious patient puts off their routine dental check-ups and cleanings, or worse, the longer they ignore the tell-tale signs of oral health issues such as dental pain, the more likely irreversible damage will wreak havoc on their smile.
For example, what begins as an undetectable cavity can quickly progress to deep decay requiring a root canal in as little as several months.
For teeth that cannot be saved with a root canal procedure, extraction is the only solution.
Fortunately, for even severely dental-phobic patients, sleep dentistry can provide the comfort necessary to take that crucial step to schedule the appointments and treatments that are necessary for a healthy and pain-free smile.<?
6. Sleep dentistry is a very safe practice.
Last, but certainly not least, sleep dentistry is incredibly safe for patients with minimal potential side effects when administered by trained and experienced professionals, such as our doctors at Downtown Sleep Dentistry and Oral Surgery.
You Deserve a Stress-Free Dental Experience
We believe that every patient has the right to a pleasant and anxiety-free experience when they come in for their dental treatment, no matter what their age or oral health background.
If you’ve been suffering from a dental phobia that’s been keeping you from visiting the dentist, our compassionate and non-judgemental team of oral health professionals in Hamilton are here to help.