For patients worried about pain during treatment, please note that for all procedures (regardless of whether you undergo sedation or not) we administer local anaesthetic to numb pain signals in the area of your mouth being treated. We also apply numbing cream first, so you won’t feel the anaesthetic injection.
If you are anxious about visiting the dentist or if you have had a bad experience in the past, we understand your concerns and want to make you as comfortable as possible. We offer sedation options (including ‘happy gas’) from involved surgery to the smallest of procedures, depending on the level of complexity or patient anxiety.
Sleep dentistry (IV sedation)
What is sleep dentistry?
Sleep dentistry involves sedative medication being administered intravenously.
It allows us to perform dental procedures whilst you are in a deep state of relaxation, yet still conscious.
Sleep dentistry is also called intravenous (IV) sedation, conscious sedation or twilight sedation.
At VC Dental, IV sedation is administered and monitored by a qualified anaesthetist practitioner who is specifically brought in for your appointment. This service is provided in our dental surgery so you don’t have to travel elsewhere for treatment.
Both children and adults can have procedures performed under sleep dentistry sedation. Common procedures include fillings, dental crowns, tooth extractions, surgical wisdom tooth extractions, oral surgery procedures, and dental implant placement.
IV sedation is available to all patients who are medically fit for the procedure.
A portion of the sedation cost can be claimed back on Medicare.
How does sleep dentistry work?
Sleep dentistry is different to general anaesthetic as instead of being unconscious, you are in a highly relaxed, sleep-like state. This can allow you to sleep through your dental procedure.
The sedative medication is administered into your bloodstream through a small cannula, usually in the back or your hand or in your arm. We can provide numbing cream to the area before the needle is given if you prefer.
During your procedure, the anaesthetist practitioner will monitor your blood pressure, and measure your pulse and oxygen.
While sedated, all of your reflexes will remain intact, for example you will be able to swallow and breathe as you normally would. If needed, we can easily wake you and you will be able to understand and follow instructions.
Benefits of sleep dentistry
- Relaxation – nervous patients can undergo dental treatments with reduced or eliminated fear/anxiety.
- Comfort – patients may find sedation more comfortable for long or complex procedures.
- Efficiency – patients can often have multiple dental treatments completed in the one appointment.
- Convenient – treatment is provided in our dental surgery so you don’t have to travel to other locations.
- Personalised – the medication dosage is tailored to each patient.
- There is no airway tube used in IV sedation.
How will I feel?
IV sedation will make you feel calm, intensely relaxed and at ease for the entire duration of the dental procedure. You will be put into a drowsy, dream-like state of sleep.
The medication used will produce a mild state of amnesia. When you ‘wake up’, you will have no memory or recollection of the entire procedure, and it will feel like no time has passed.
After the procedure
Due to some prolonged drowsiness after treatment, it is necessary for somebody to take you home and stay with you for the rest of the day.
Other types of sedation
Oral sedation is a non-invasive method of inducing moderate sedation for most patients.
Oral sedatives will be given one hour prior to your appointment, in the form of a tablet.
The medication allows you to feel relaxed, calm and drowsy for the entire procedure. However, you will remain conscious, in control of your reflexes, and able to understand and respond to instructions.
The effects can last a few hours after the procedure, so it is necessary for somebody to take you home afterwards.
Inhalation sedation is also called relative anaesthesia, happy gas, or laughing gas. It involves the use of nitrous oxide gas mixed with oxygen which is breathed in through the nose. It is administered quickly and easily by our experienced team through a small mask or nasal cannula.
This method of sedation provides a calm and relaxed state of mind for the duration of the procedure. You will generally experience a warm, pleasant, floating feeling. However, you will remain conscious, in control of your reflexes, and able to understand and respond to instructions.
The use of inhalation sedation is simple, effective and rapid. The gas only takes a few minutes to take effect and is easily reversed. Once reversed, the sedative wears off quickly with no lingering drowsiness or other side effects. Therefore, there is no inconvenience caused and you are able to drive a vehicle and go home or back to work on your own after the procedure.
Nitrous oxide has no smell or colour and doesn’t irritate the airways. It can be provided to both adults and children. For children we can use scented masks (e.g. vanilla, strawberry or orange flavour) to make it a more pleasant experience.
Nervous or Anxious Patients
Dental anxiety is being nervous and afraid either in the dental surgery, or even at the thought of going to the dentist.
It exists in many forms, from simply being a little on edge to feeling completely overwhelmed.
At VC Dental, our experienced and understanding team have successfully treated many anxious patients. We take the time to understand your fears and concerns, so we can tailor treatment to reduce or eliminate your anxiety. Our goal is to make you feel as comfortable as possible, and in control of your appointments. We will happily answer any of your questions, and discuss all aspects of your procedures, so you feel informed and prepared. You can also stop for breaks as needed during treatment.
We provide a calm and supportive environment where you will be looked after from the moment you arrive in our care.
If the thought of dental treatment makes you anxious, you may like to consider sedation dentistry to help your treatment pass in comfort. We have a range of sedation options available (sleep dentistry IV sedation, oral sedatives, and inhalation sedation), and we will work with you to find which option will suit you best.
Dental anxiety can cause some patients to put off visiting the dentist for routine preventative care, or even if they are suffering from a dental problem. Preventative care is important for both your oral health and overall health. It also allows for the early detection of any problems so they can be prevented or treated in the initial stages. This usually means less invasive, and less expensive treatment. Likewise, dental problems rarely get better on their own. Delaying intervention can cause the problem to get worse, which can require more complex dental treatment (and may cause the patient to remain in unnecessary pain).
Whatever the reason for your anxiety, our sympathetic team will work with you so you can receive the treatment you need with as little stress as possible.
A strong gag reflex is another reason that patients may delay treatment. It’s important that patients know this is a normal occurrence, and it’s nothing to be worried or embarrassed about. We will discuss this with you at your appointments to find a solution that works for you. Often we can successfully use inhalation sedation (‘happy gas’) to reduce the sensitivity of gag reflexes during treatment.
Suggestions to help deal with dental anxiety
Here are some of the ways we can help alleviate dental anxiety:
- Get to know your practitioner(s) first. We provide consultations where you will be given the time to discuss your history, concerns and questions with your dentist, so we are aware of what makes you anxious. Hopefully this will help us build your trust in our care before we begin treatment.
- Request detailed information. For some patients, knowing each step of procedures can make them feel more in control and at ease. If this will assist you, we will happily explain these details.
- Bring some support. We will happily allow a relative or friend sit in the surgery with you if this will make you feel more comfortable.
- Take breaks. You are welcome to take breaks as needed during treatment. We can discuss a simple hand signal ahead of time so you can let us know if you would like a rest.
- If music is something that keeps you calm, you are welcome to bring a phone or iPod/music player with headphones/earphones to your appointment, to help distract yourself and cancel out any noises that might concern you.
This information is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It should not be taken as personal, professional advice; nor treatment or diagnosis. Always seek professional advice from an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Any invasive medical procedure carries risks.