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What types of dental sedation treatments can I have?

woman at dentist

Overcome dental fear and anxiety with calming treatments

Going to the dentist is something that you might be putting off, especially if you’ve had a bad experience in the past. Whether you fear potential pain, the drill or needle or find the process uncomfortable, being anxious about visiting the dentist is common.

Dental fear affects as many as one in six Australians, but it doesn’t have to stop you getting the dental treatment you need. If you suffer from dental fear, understanding the types of dental sedation that are available may help to alleviate your anxiety.

Here’s how dental sedation can help to make your next dental appointment pain-free and comfortable.

Sleep through your dental procedure and wake up with a healthy smile  at The Point Dental’s dental sleep clinic

Sleep sedation dentistry

For severe dental anxiety, sleep dentistry may be a good option. During sleep sedation, you don’t have to worry about a thing. You will go to sleep while the dentist completes the work, and wake up once it is all over.

While you are under sleep sedation, the general anaesthetic ensures that you won’t feel anything being done or see the dentist doing the work.

At The Point Dental, you can choose to have your dental work done in our onsite General Anaesthetic Facility.

how much does sleep dentistry cost

Who should have dental sedation?

If you experience symptoms like sweating, racing heartbeat, low blood pressure, panic or distress at the thought of entering the dental clinic, you may consider dental sedation to help you to get through the procedure comfortably.

Dental sedation is for anyone with a fear of the dentist. It is suitable for those who:

  • Suffer from dental fear and anxiety
  • Are scared of drills or needles
  • Have very sensitive teeth
  • Have a bad gag reflex
  • Find it hard to sit still, including children
  • Need a lot of dental work done

What happens during dental sedation

When you arrive at the dental clinic for your appointment, the dentist will review your medical history to ensure you get the right type of dental sedation during your procedure.

A highly trained and experienced anaesthetist will administer a general anaesthetic. An anaesthetic cream can help to minimise the sensation of any IV line going in, and sedation is administered progressively over around 20 minutes.

Throughout the procedure, the dental team will monitor your blood pressure, pulse and oxygen levels. You’ll be completely asleep throughout the whole procedure so the dentist can safely complete the procedure, and you won’t feel a thing.

If you are having several procedures done in one appointment, the level of sedation may be adjusted to ensure you remain pain-free throughout the entire process.

If you’ve had a filling put in, the anaesthetist may lower the level of sedation to allow you to confirm with the dentist that the work done feels completely comfortable in your mouth, before finishing the procedure.

At the end of the procedure, you’ll be able to get up and walk around after a short recovery period. After dental sedation, you shouldn’t drive or operate machinery until at least the following day.

sleep dentistry costs and considerations

Alternatives to sleep dentistry

There’s a lot that your dentist can do to make you feel comfortable throughout the procedure without putting you to completely to sleep.

Twilight sedation

A dentist trained in anaesthesia can also provide ‘twilight sedation’, administered through an IV line. It’s milder than a full anaesthetic and generally makes the patient feel as though they have woken from an afternoon nap.

Nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide or ‘laughing gas’ is an effective relaxant for some adults and children. This safe sedation option helps the patient to feel calm, reduces anxiety and slows down the body’s reaction time. Nitrous oxide also helps to treat pain and acts as a mild sedative.

The patient breathes the odourless, colourless gas through a mask during the procedure. The advantage of this type of sedation is that effects will wear off within five to ten minutes once the procedure is complete.

Other alternative sedation options

Some other alternatives to sleep dentistry include:

  • Anti-anxiety medication like Valium
  • Penthrox inhalation sedation — a self-administered treatment so you stay in control of how much relief you need
  • Use of headphones and eye masks to fully immerse and distract you throughout the procedure

If you don’t want to undergo a general anaesthetic, you can take control of the process by combining one or more alternative sedation techniques to ensure you remain relaxed during your treatment.

If you are overdue to visit the dentist, try sleep dentistry for a painless procedure that you won’t even remember.