Common Methods in Sleep Dentistry

Sleep dentistry refers to the act of inducing patients into a more relaxed state. Oftentimes, procedures or even simple appointments can cause dental anxiety, which shows itself through fear and nervousness. It can be difficult to overcome, which may lead to skipping very necessary appointments. Long-term, this can lead to poor oral health.

Thankfully, modern-day dentists have helped to adapt sleep dentistry practices. These practices consist of a number of methods, ranging from light to intense, depending on the procedure being performed, the patient's level of anxiety, and the dentist's recommendation. The different sleep dentistry methods each have their own goals, with varying administration techniques. Keep reading to find out more!

Laughing gas

Laughing gas has been used by almost everyone! This simple set up can be used for just about anything, including routine check-ups and even dental crown placement. There is not a limit as to what laughing gas can be used for, which is why so many are familiar with it. A mask is placed over the patient's nose and nitrous oxide is fed through it. Once inhaled, the patient will enter into a state of calmness.

What to know

Laughing gas does not necessarily induce laughter; however, it does ease fears, nerves, and anxiety.

Oral medication

Oral medications consist of anti-anxiety medications and in some rare scenarios, sleeping medications. They are prescribed to the patient before the procedure, with clear instructions on consumption. In most cases, it is advised to take the pill orally a few minutes ahead of the start time as this allows it to kick in.

What to know

Oral medications are known to be on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to the intensity of the sleep dentistry method.

IV sedation and anti-anxiety medications

When suffering from dental anxiety, IV sedation in sleep dentistry is highly recommended. IV sedation is exactly as it sounds! Anti-anxiety medications are administered intravenously to help induce a state of calmness. In some cases, it will be administered slowly throughout the entirety of the procedure, whereas other times, it may be done all at once at the start.

What to know

Although IV sedation does fall under the sleep dentistry category, it does not usually induce sleep. Instead, the patient is relaxed, very calm, and not as anxious.


General anesthesia is the most intense form of sleep dentistry as it actually puts the patient to sleep. It is used in a similar setting as it would be administered during traditional surgery. An anesthesiologist or dentist with experience will administer it prior to the procedure intravenously. Within a few minutes, the patient is unconscious, making it next to impossible to wake them.

What to know

General anesthesia does have lingering effects, which requires a gradual wake up after the procedure is done. Additionally, dentists recommend that the patient has a friend or family member available for getting home and settled.

Learn more about sleep dentistry

Any type of appointment with a dentist can involve sleep dentistry, it is just a matter of undergoing an evaluation beforehand. Evaluations give the dentist a chance to determine what method of sleep dentistry is best. For example, routine check-ups may only require laughing gas, whereas a tooth extraction may warrant IV sedation. To find out more about sleep dentistry and what each method entails, reach out today.

Request an appointment here: or call Pier 210 Dental Group at (530) 885-5696 for an appointment in our Auburn office. 

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