So, what is sleep dentistry?
The term sleep dentistry in Australia refers to the provision of intravenous sedation and in some cases oral sedation for dental procedures. In most cases, an IV line or drip is placed into the back of your hand or inner elbow and the drugs needed to sedate you go through this line.
Sedation can only be provided by dentists who have had appropriate training in the technique.
At present, the minimum training requirement is the Graduate Diploma in Clinical Dentistry/Pain and Anxiety Control through the University of Sydney. This is a part-time program that runs over 2 years and provides both clinical and classroom education.
Dr. Field, however, has 2 years of full-time training in medical anesthesia and as such is also trained in general anesthesia, although he does not practice in-office general anesthesia in Australia. He is board-certified in dental anesthesia in North America, holding both a Diploma from the National Dental Board of Anesthesia and a Fellowship in dental anesthesia from the American Dental Society of anesthesia. So, as you can see, he not only meets but exceeds the minimum training standards required here in Australia.
What is the difference between sedation and general anesthesia?
From your point of view, this is not much difference. In each case, your perception is that you go to sleep and when you awaken the work is complete. In technical terms, with a general anesthetic when you are asleep you stop breathing and your gag reflex is lost so we must put a tube through your vocal cords and attach that tube to a ventilator (a machine that breathes for you). With sedation, you breathe on your own and your gag reflex is intact, so sedation is safer than general anesthesia when performed by trained practitioners.
The other major difference is NO general anesthetic gases or neuromuscular blockers are used with sedation. General anesthetic gases and neuromuscular blockers are the major culprit in post operative nausea and vomiting after general anesthesia. In fact, one of the major sedation drugs ( propofol) is actually a potent anti-nauseant. So the incidence of post-op nausea with sedation is very rare indeed.
Finally unlike general anesthetic procedures, which in Australia can only be performed in hospitals, for which you have to be at the hospital hours before the procedure and stay for hours after, with sedation you arrive 15 minutes before and usually are discharged within 30-45 minutes after the procedure.
Sedation allows nervous or phobic patients to have general dental work performed in a non-threatening manner. It allows all patients to have dental surgical procedures performed comfortably.
For patients it seems that no time has passed and you awaken to find the work is done.
Call us today for a confidential consultation to see how sleep dentistry can help you get the dental work done that you have been putting off for so long.