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sleep dentistry services

Sleep Dentistry: How Sleeping on the Job Can Be Productive for All Involved

At Abbotsford Dental, we do everything possible to make our patients feel at ease. However, for some patients, no amount of reassurance can tame the anxiety they feel. If you experience extreme dental anxiety — and this is a genuine condition — sleep dentistry may be your solution. But what, pray tell, is ‘sleep dentistry’?

Does Sleep Dentistry Mean They Send You To Sleep for Your Procedure?

More or less! Also known as ‘twilight dentistry’ or (more commonly) ‘sedation dentistry’, sleep dentistry involves either sedating a dental patient or knocking them out with general anaesthesia. While you could argue that the latter method is the only ‘true’ sleep dentistry, the former also falls under the ‘sleep dentistry’ umbrella. A sedative can induce enough relaxation for sleep to follow naturally.

Under a sedative — barring a scenario where the patient falls asleep — the patient will be aware of their environment but feel much more at ease. Under general anaesthesia, on the other hand, the patient will neither recall the procedure nor any time passing. While some patients reserve sleep dentistry for more significant procedures, others will request it for every procedure. In any case, whether or not they opt for it will depend on their personal preferences and level of anxiety. The general assumption is that general anaesthesia is reserved for more significant procedures (e.g. wisdom tooth extractions) or cases of extreme dental anxiety.

How Does Sleep Dentistry Go Down?

When a patient opts for sedation, there are generally three ways it goes down: via an oral pill, an intravenous line (IV), or a nosepiece or mask. If a nosepiece or mask is in play, chances are the dentist is administering nitrous oxide — aka ‘laughing gas’ or ‘happy gas’. Whichever way the patient receives their sedative, they should feel calm and immune to pain once it takes effect. Once the procedure is over, they will feel like no time has passed — and, in some cases, have no memory of the event.

If the patient has opted for general anaesthetic, there’s only one way to administer it: via an IV. In this case, an anaesthetist inserts the anaesthetic directly into the patient’s vein using a needle or tube. As the needle or tube penetrates the skin (to access the vein), the patient may experience a minor pinching sensation. Once the anaesthetic works its ‘magic’, the patient will fall into a safe and monitored artificial sleep. In the same ‘vein’ as sedation, the patient will neither recall the time gone by nor the procedure itself once the anaesthesia wears off.

Should I Ask My Dentist About Sleep Dentistry?

If any of the below apply to you, you may be a prime candidate for sleep dentistry:

  • Extreme anxiety surrounding dentistry, or trauma relating to previous dental procedures
  • Dislike for or negative association with smells or sounds experienced in the dental chair
  • Complex procedure required, involving multiple restorations or extractions, or treatment in multiple areas of the mouth (e.g. wisdom teeth removal)
  • Difficulty keeping the mouth open for prolonged periods, or limited scope for movement in the jaw
  • Difficulty achieving absolute numbness
  • Fear of needles, especially near the mouth
  • Strong gag reflex.

Are There Other Ways To Manage Dental Anxiety?

If you either can’t or do not wish to undergo sleep dentistry, there are other ways to manage your anxiety — though they will involve being fully conscious throughout your procedure.

1. Communicate With Your Dentist

If you’re feeling uneasy in the chair, let your dentist know. This way, they can do their thing while being aware of your feelings and mindful of your comfort. Though communication is no sedative pill, moving forward on the same page can provide peace of mind.

2. Schedule Smart

Dreading the dentist? Book your appointment for a time when there are minimal stressors in your life. This way, you lessen the chance of aggravating any unease associated with your dental appointment. Stress can be a cumulative beast — disarm it by diffusing it!

3. Try Mindful Breathing

It may sound silly, but even something as simple as breathwork can have a resounding grounding effect. When you’re feeling on edge in the waiting room, zone in on your breath, feel where it’s catching in your chest, and try to reset it. Keeping a measured respiration rate will slow the heartbeat and deactivate the fight-or-flight mode.

Make All Dental Procedures a Breeze at Abbotsford Dental

If the thought of the dentist makes your teeth chatter, you can relieve this tension with Abbotsford Dental’s sleep dentistry services. Whether you’re due for a check-up and clean or going the whole hog with a tooth extraction, you can sit through the procedure stress-free — potentially without any recollection of the ordeal. Sleep dentistry can also be an excellent option for nervous little ones. If your child is stressed about an upcoming dental visit, ask about sleep dentistry when booking a children’s dentistry appointment.

Sometimes, general anaesthesia is part and parcel of major dental work — such as root canal treatment or dental implant placement. On the other hand, if you’re interested in cosmetic dentistry, most of these procedures involve minimal invasion. With digital scanning technology, you no longer need to endure gag-inducing putty to produce a dental impression. For this reason, you likely won’t need sleep dentistry for veneer, Invisalign or denture fittings — though you may appreciate it when we place veneers, as well as bridges or crowns (available in CEREC!).

For our teeth-whitening procedure — for which we use the most reputable technology (Philips Zoom!) — you can use sleep dentistry if you wish. However, it is minimally invasive and involves little more than holding a light against your teeth for up to an hour. On the other hand, if you’re getting a white filling, you may want sedation here, as this is a more typical dental procedure. Depending on whether we have time, we should be able to get you sedated for any emergency dental appointments. In any case, we administer our sedatives with a holistic health approach, so you can rest assured you’ll be in gentle hands at Abbotsford Dental.

If you think sleep dentistry may make your life easier, we’re all ears! Speak with the friendly team at Abbotsford Dental about your options today. From simple sedatives to actual anaesthesia, we have what you need for a stress-free dental experience. Quell those chattering teeth and book your appointment now.


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