Individuals who get nervous about dentist visits may become anxious because of previous bad or uncomfortable experiences. This can lead to a variety of responses such as avoiding dental appointments. Dental exams are needed to ensure that oral health is optimal. Missed routine appointments may result in missing important signs of oral decline such as tooth decay. Many dental problems can be detected and fixed without a need for aggressive actions, such as tooth extractions, as long as the issues are identified early.
The thought of needing to get dental work is alarming for individuals who suffer from dental anxiety. This is something that can affect individuals of all ages. The following points identify four levels of sleep dentistry solutions that can help calm dental anxiety.
This option is a mild type of sleep dentistry. Patients who get treated at this level are mildly sedated. They understand and know what is going on around them. However, sedation at all levels makes it unsafe for individuals to do activities such as operating machinery or vehicles. This is partly due to the potential of the sedative effects being stronger for some than others.
Individuals who receive sedation of this type may fall asleep for the entire dental visit. However, sleeping and waking up throughout the procedure is a normal reaction. If these individuals fall asleep and do not awaken during the procedure, it is still easy to rouse them for safety checks or when the procedure is over. They will respond but might appear tired and groggy. The memory of the procedure will be impacted. These individuals may only recall portions of the procedure.
This sleep dentistry level has a "zombie-like" effect. It will render patients unconscious for the duration of the dental visit. Waking up during the procedure is unlikely, and patients likely will not remember the events that occur during the sedation. Patients might move, murmur, or have other responses to pain and pressure administered during the procedure.
Dentists may choose this option for complex dental procedures. Extreme anxiety, multiple extractions, lengthy cosmetic procedures, or existing issues such as a mental decline in the elderly or young children who need extractions would fall into this category. Patients will be unconscious for the duration of these procedures. They will not be able to recall what happened during the procedures and will not feel anything during the procedures. When they wake up from level four procedures, disorientation may be present but should wear off over time.
Sleep dentistry can make dental visits more comfortable for individuals with dental anxiety, gag reflex, or those who have to get an extensive amount of dental work performed. A dentist can discuss the benefits of opting to use anesthetics for dental procedures. They can also help identify the best type of sleep dentistry option to implement.