Forté talk Sleep Dentistry

Dr Wilfred Koon, principle dentist at The Point Dental, located in Point Cook, Melbourne has developed his practice to help Australians who suffer from dental phobia. We had a chat with Dr Koon about the very real fear for Aussies today and sleep dentistry.

What exactly is sleep dentistry and why do people do it?

Sleep dentistry is basically a procedure where we can put patient to sleep so that we can fix their teeth up. Sleep dentistry is very good for people who are scared of going to the dentist because there are so many people out there who are scared of going to the dentist and when they are anxious it is very difficult to get the work done.

What type of problems come with having dental phobia?

Everyone is scared of something different – some people are scared of pain, sometimes they are scared of needles or drills, and sometimes it can be something that is deeper emotionally – like they are scared by being judged by other dentists, or drowning and have a very strong gag reflex. Very often the people with dentist fear have many complex issues as well because they haven’t been to the dentist for many, many years, 20, 30 or even 50 years because they are so scared. It becomes impossible to actually do any work on those patients when they are very scared, so the only way is to put them to sleep, get all the work done and then we wake them up.

How does it work?

Sleep dentistry it is a service that we offer in our clinic. There are two main ways to put people to sleep – one is sedation (conscious sedation) which is when you put someone to sleep, as if they were very drunk, and they are so drunk that they won’t remember anything, and the other type is general anaesthesia – where the patient goes to sleep completely where they can’t move and they won’t respond to anything and you can do everything and when they wake up they won’t feel anything as well. The way we do it, we have all the equipment here in our clinic, and we organise for a specialist anaesthetic to come in.

Who’s it for?

In Australia, one in six people have massive dentist fear, and that’s not including people with mild or moderate dental fear, so including all the people with dentist fear it’s about half the population with dentist fear. It’s a big number of people out there who haven’t been seeking dental treatment because of their fear. What we try to do here is help patients shed their dental fear, and at the same time try to give them back their smile so they can be more confident about themselves.

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