Sleep dentistry and sedation dentistry sound similar, and many dentists do use the terms interchangeably. However, sleep dentistry and sedation dentistry refer to the two distinctly different methods of administering sedation during your dental visit.

Like many patients, you may have feelings of anxiety when you think about scheduling a dental appointment. You may avoid visiting your dentist for routine cleanings and checkups. Missing dental appointments, especially over the course of a few years, can lead to dental problems that have a significant negative effect on your overall health.

It is very important to visit your dentist at least twice a year to maintain your oral health. Sedation dentistry and sleep dentistry are designed to help you relax during your dental appointments, so you can get the dental care you need without suffering the anxiety that comes with it.

Sleep Dentistry

Sleep dentistry does not mean you are completely asleep during your general dentistry treatments. Sleep dentistry simply refers to the use of an IV to administer the sedative that helps you fall into a relaxed and semi-unconscious state. An anesthesiologist will be present to monitor your vital signs and make adjustments as necessary to maintain your comfort level.

Sleep dentistry is more expensive than sedation dentistry and has the same risks as general anesthesia. Dentists who offer sleep dentistry must have special training and certifications. It is necessary to have a friend or family member drive you home after your appointment. You may need to rest for the remainder of the day as the effects wear off.

Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry uses either oral sedatives or nitrous oxide to help you relax. You are conscious during your treatments and able to answer questions and respond to your dentist. Even though you are conscious, sedation dentistry is very effective at easing dental anxiety.

If you opt for an oral sedative, you will need to arrange for someone to drive you home after your appointment. You can take the pill after or before you arrive at the dental office. Some patients choose to take the pill before they arrive due to their increased level of anxiety when they enter a dental office. If you take the pill before you arrive, you will need to have someone drive you to your appointment.

Nitrous oxide is more commonly known as “laughing gas,” and its effects wear off very quickly, enabling you to drive yourself home. Nitrous oxide is administered through a mask. You will be asked to take several deep breaths while wearing the mask to help you feel relaxed and comfortable during your treatments.

Which One is Right for You: Sleep Dentistry or Sedation Dentistry

The sedation technique that is right for you depends on the level of anxiety you experience while at your dentist’s office. Sedation dentistry is the right technique for most patients. A few patients require sleep dentistry for the deeper relaxation it provides. Both techniques can be used during general dentistry and cosmetic dentistry treatments. Your oral health does not have to suffer because of anxiety thanks to the various types of sedation dentistry and sleep dentistry.

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