Understanding Sleep Dentistry and When to Consider It

Understanding Sleep Dentistry and When to Consider It

Are you one of the millions of people who put off going to the dentist out of dread? Believe it or not, with sleep dentistry, you won’t even know if you’ve had a root canal.

You’re not alone if you’re afraid to go to the dentist. According to the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, dental anxiety affects about 30 to 40 million people. Some people experience severe dental phobia and become terrified at the thought of visiting the dentist.

This is where sleep dentistry saves the day for people with deep-seated fears, an intolerance to pain or a strong gag reflex. Today’s dental sedatives make it possible for you to have the dental care you need without anxiety or fear.

Are you ready to take control of your oral health with a dentist that offers sedation?

Read more about how sedation dentistry can help you relax in the dentist’s chair.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

When you have sedation dentistry, your dentist gives you powerful relaxants or sedatives that relieve your fear and anxiety. Sedation dentistry, also called sleep dentistry can help you return to the dentist even if you haven’t been there for years.

From routine cleanings, periodontal disease treatment, complicated root canals to oral surgery, you can have sedatives whenever you need them. In fact, if you haven’t been to the dentist for a long time, you might need longer appointments to restore your teeth and gums to how they should be. Sleep dentistry is the key to completing these types of long procedures.

Understanding the Levels of Sedation

Having sedation dentistry doesn’t always mean you need to be asleep for your dental work. Your sedation dentist can give you one of the four levels of sedation. Understanding the different levels can help you discuss your sedation options with your dentist.


With minimal sedation, you’re conscious. You also know what’s happening, but you’re calm.


This is a stronger sedative. Like minimal sedation, you’re awake but may not know what is going on around you. With moderate sedation, you’re on the edge of consciousness.


With deep sedation, you’re in a kind of “twilight sleep.” Most likely, you won’t remember your procedure. The dentist will also be able to wake you up with a tap.

General Anesthesia

You might think general anesthesia is the best solution for you because it knocks you out completely. But, for most dental procedures, you don’t need this type of deep sedation. It has more side effects than the other types of sedation so think of it as bigger is not always better.

What Are the Types of Sleep Dentistry Sedation?

In the previous section, you learned that sedation dentists offer sedatives ranging from minimal strength to deep strength. The following types of sedation are typical for dental visits:

Inhaled Sedation

This sedation is nitrous oxide, once known as “laughing gas.” It makes you feel a sense of well-being and reduces your awareness of pain. You inhale this sedative through a mask, and it eliminates your anxiety from receiving Novocain needles and other dental work.

Nitrous oxide can make you feel tingly and lightheaded as you breathe it in through your nose. After a few minutes, you’ll feel comfortable and calm for your dental procedure. This is minimal level sedation.

This sedative doesn’t put you to sleep so you can drive after your appointment.

Oral Sedation

Oral sedation for dental work is available in pill form. You take the sedative by mouth and in a short time, you’ll become drowsy. Your dentist adjusts the dosage until your anxiety and fear are gone.

The pill form is usually Halcion, which belongs to the Valium drug family. Some dentists offer diazepam. You take the pill about an hour before your dental procedure.

With oral sedation, you feel very sleepy, and you won’t remember much about the dental procedure you had. This is a moderate level of sedation.

IV Sedation

This has similar effects as oral sedation. The difference is that your dentist has more control over the amount he administers to you. IV sedation ranges from moderate to deep sedation.

Your dentist inserts an IV line into your vein. This makes the sedative work faster than oral sedation. An IV sedation is for procedures that require deeper sedation.

You’ll need a ride home after waking from this type of sedation.

How to Prepare for Sleep Dentistry

The sleep dentistry preparation depends on the type you and your dentist decide is best for your situation. For example, if you’re using an oral sedative, your dentist will call in a prescription for the medication. You’ll also receive detailed instructions on when to take it.

Just follow the instructions your dentist gives you, and you’ll feel calm and cool as you walk into your dentist’s office.

You don’t have to make any preparations if you’re having nitrous oxide. Your dentist will place the mask over your nose and mouth before he starts working on your teeth so you’re totally relaxed. You keep the mask on during and right after you’re done.

For IV sedation, you might need to fast for several hours before your dental visit. If you’re on any medications, you might have to stop taking them the day before your appointment. Some medications can interfere with your sedation.

Ask Your Dentist About Sedation for Your Dental Work

Dental clinics offering sleep dentistry can manage your anxiety with varying levels of sedation. This means that your comfort is always the most important thing about your visit to the dentist. You also have a say as to whether you prefer to be partially conscious or completely asleep during your dental work.

If you’re interested in sleep dentistry as a way to calm your nerves during your next visit to the dentist, contact us to talk to a dentist in Aurora, CO. We’re dedicated to restoring and enhancing the natural beauty of your smile using conservative and state-of-the-art treatments with your comfort in mind. Schedule your appointment today for an anxiety-free dental visit.