Top 9 Myths About Sleep Dentistry
Sleep Dentistry

Top 9 Myths About Sleep Dentistry

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Sleep dentistry can be suitable for anxious patients or for those who are due for more complex treatments, but common misconceptions about sleep dentistry can be off-putting. Do you share these common misconceptions about dental sedation?

3 minute read


Dental sedation is sometimes known as sleep dentistry, but it doesn't always involve putting you to sleep. This is just one of many sedation types that patients can choose to have for their dental treatment.

Our dentists in East Victoria Park will explain what sleep dentistry involves and what your options are, so you'll know what to expect and can make fully informed decisions about your dental care. Here are some starting points.


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Myth 1: I don't need sedation if I don't have dental anxiety

happy gas at EVP Dental

Sleep dentistry can help people affected by dental anxiety or phobia who have tried other approaches to calm their nerves but still need help to get through their dental appointments.

However, dental sedation may also be helpful or necessary in other circumstances, such as:

  • If you are having a lengthy, complex or surgical procedure, such as placing dental implants or removing wisdom teeth
  • Providing additional pain relief, especially if you are resistant to local anaesthesia or suffer from tooth sensitivity


Myth 2: There's only one type of sedation

IV sedation at EVP Dental

At EVP Dental, we offer a range of sedation options, depending on your needs and preferences. Sedation options at EVP Dental include:

  • Oral sedation – mild to moderate sedation taken in pill or liquid form around an hour before your dental treatment.
  • Happy gas – mild sedation administered through a face mask. Nitrous oxide produces a calm, dream-like state and can also help to numb pain.
  • Sleep dentistry – intravenous (IV) sedation administered through a cannula in the arm to produce a calm, semi-conscious state. You will normally remain conscious, but may fall asleep.
  • General anaesthesia – strong sedation provided in hospital that may be recommended for more complex procedures. You will remain unconscious throughout your procedure.

These types of sedation options (with the exception of general anaesthesia) are used in addition to a local anaesthesia to help numb any pain in the area. Got questions about sleep dentistry? Get in touch with the EVP Dental team today.

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Myth 3: I'll be asleep in pain and I won't be able to communicate it

If you choose sleep dentistry for your treatment, your dentist and anaesthetist will make sure you don't feel any pain while you’re asleep by providing a local anaesthesia.

Not all patients will fall asleep under IV sedation but will feel calm and relaxed in a sleep-like form. If you remain awake, you may only feel slight pressure in your mouth, but you will be able to communicate with your dentist. If you are having general anaesthesia, you will be unconscious and not aware of any sensation.


Myth 4: I'll do or say something silly

A common misconception about sleep dentistry is that you may do or say something silly. Most forms of dental sedation are designed to help patients relax and feel calm. You may feel light-headed and you may not remember the experience afterwards, but these sedatives should not cause you to behave or talk in ways that you normally wouldn't.

If you're having general anaesthetic, you may talk uncharacteristically while you are entering or emerging from unconsciousness. Dental professionals and anaesthetists are used to this, so there's no need to worry or feel embarrassed.


Myth 5: It’s not used for all treatments

IV Sedation for dental cleans

Sleep dentistry is often incorrectly associated with complex dental procedures, however sleep dentistry can be used for all types of treatment, including those as simple as having a filling placed or a routine dental clean. The team at EVP Dental will tailor your treatment plan according to your individual needs and comfort levels.


Myth 6: Sleep dentistry is super expensive

Sleep dentistry at the practice is surprisingly affordable compared to in-hospital treatment. The anaesthetist charges a per hour rate which is passed on to you.

IV sedation and anaesthetist fee for one hour is $884* however, Medicare will pay a portion of these costs.

*This is the cost of IV sedation in addition to treatment costs.


Myth 7: Sedation is dangerous

Sleep dentistry is a routine and very safe process that helps more people to access essential dental care and lower their oral health risks.

Sedation is administered intravenously by an experienced and qualified GP anaesthetist who manages your sedation and monitors your vital signs through treatment.

Sleep dentistry poses less risk than most other forms of sedation including general anaesthesia, which is why it can be carried out in a dental practice following a safe protocol in line with Dental Board of Australia standards.

 Possible side effects of sedation medications are temporary and may include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Hiccups
  • Slurred speech

Serious side effects such as difficulty breathing or loss of consciousness are rare and are often avoided by your dentist initially assessing your medical history and individual risk factors.

Myth 8: Sedation is not safe for children

Some types of sedation are not recommended for children unless strictly necessary, but milder sedatives such as happy gas are not harmful and are routinely used in kids' dentistry to help anxious patients or assist with complex procedures.

Your child's dentist will explain what's involved and answer any questions you have to help put your mind at ease.

Myth 9: I don't have time for the recovery period

Side effects and recovery times vary depending on the method of sedation used, but sleep dentistry usually won't interfere too much with your lifestyle and responsibilities.

  • If you're having happy gas, its effects will wear off very quickly after the sedation stops being administered.
  • Oral sedation and IV sedation should wear off fully within 6 hours. You can return to most normal activities on the day after your treatment, but it's recommended that you avoid driving for 24 hours.
  • General anaesthesia has a longer recovery time. It may affect your memory, concentration or reflexes for up to 24 hours and you should avoid driving for 48 hours.


Am I suitable for sleep dentistry?

Sleep dentistry is extremely safe and most patients are generally eligible for intravenous sedation if they have good general health.

However certain medical conditions and lifestyle factors can determine whether you are better suited to treatment in hospital under another form of sedation such as general anaesthesia. These include:

  • you are under 15 years old
  • you have a liver or kidney disorder
  • you have a medical condition that involves the nervous system
  • you have had radiation therapy in the past
  • you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • you have severe obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)
  • you are diabetic on insulin
  • you are allergic to the sedatives used
  • you are morbidly obese / have a BMI > 40

Your dentist will assess your general health and medical history to determine your suitability before recommending the most suitable type of sedation for you. In some cases, this may involve consulting with your doctor or other medical practitioners.


Find out more about sleep dentistry in East Victoria Park

Sleep dentistry at EVP Dental is provided by our qualified anaesthetist Dr Christine Troy at our East Victoria Park dental clinic. We can also offer general anaesthesia at Southbank Day Surgery in South Perth.

To find out more and discuss your options, book a consultation with our local dentists today. Call us on (08) 9470 3944.

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