Sedation Dentistry / Sleep Dentistry
“There’s a new buzz in the world of dentistry and it’s dubbed ‘sleep dentistry’. Today, I’m going to learn more about it from Melbourne dentist Dr Kristina Cakarovski.
Interviewer: Kristina, how are you?
Dr Kristina Cakarovski: I’m well thank you.
Interviewer: Now tell me, what exactly is sleep dentistry?
Dr Kristina Cakarovski: Sleep dentistry, or more correctly sedation dentistry, is a comfortable way of undergoing dental treatment, while under sedation.
Interviewer: When do patients typically require it?
Dr Kristina Cakarovski: A patient might ask for this therapy if they are particularly anxious about their dental treatment. Whether that anxiety be to do with the smells and sounds associated with dentistry or a fear of the oral injections or the instruments involved. Also, some people have an involuntary gag reflex when a dentist is working in their mouth or they might struggle to hold their mouth open for long periods. All of these resistances are overcome with sedation.
Interviewer: And what form does this sedation take?
Dr Kristina Cakarovski: We combine a sedative with a pain relieving medicine and administer it intravenously. There are no tubes down the patient’s throat. The preparation induces a drowsy and dream like state and the patient has no memory of the dental procedure afterwards.
Interviewer: And is it safe?
Dr Kristina Cakarovski: We offer sedation dentistry only to patients who are medically well, that have already been thoroughly checked out beforehand. At our clinic the preparation is administered by qualified specialist anaesthetists. These registered specialists have a medical degree plus a postgraduate qualification in anaesthetics, so the same safeguards apply as in a hospital. At our clinic, patients are monitored the whole time they are under sedation.
Interviewer: Are there any side effects or after effects?
Dr Kristina Cakarovski: Some people experience mild drowsiness for up to 24 hours after the procedure but this is not typical. As with general anaesthetics, the safeguards we put in place make serious side effects very rare. We do recommend that a patient doesn’t drive or use public transport immediately afterwards and that they be accompanied home, just as a precaution.
Interviewer: And what about costs?
Dr Kristina Cakarovski: The cost of the sedation dentistry is additional to the fee for the treatment itself. You can expect to pay about $600 per hour of sedation. There is a minimum of one hour and the charges are applied in quarter hour increments after that.
The good news for patients at our clinic is that because you are being treated by specialist anaesthetist you are eligible for a Medicare rebate of about a quarter of the costs.
Interviewer: And given the benefits to people with serious dental phobias, it sounds like it’s money well spent.
Dr Kristina Cakarovski: It certainly is.
Interviewer: Well thanks for your time today, Kristina. Truly appreciate it.
Dr Kristina Cakarovski: You’re very welcome.”