General Dentistry

Dr George Connell

Everything you need to know about sleep dentistry


Are you *really* scared of going to the dentist?

Like sweaty-palms-pounding-heart-anxiety-through-the-roof scared?

You’re not alone.

Many of the patients we see at our Gregory Hills and Moss Vale dental practices experience severe anxiety during dentist appointments. Some even have a complete dental phobia. An extreme fear of the dentist can make even the most routine check-ups feel like a nightmare. And it can stop you from booking appointments altogether, putting your oral health at serious risk.

But what if there was a way you could visit the dentist… without really ‘being there’?

Sounds like a dream, right?

With sleep dentistry, it is.

Sleep dentistry (also known as sedation dentistry) allows even the most anxious patients to get the care they need while peacefully under sedation.

Now, we know going under any kind of sedation can seem daunting — especially if you’ve never experienced it before. You’ll likely have a few questions about how sedation works, how much sleep dentistry costs and what to expect. To help put your mind at ease, we’ve put together this article on everything you need to know about sleep dentistry.

Psst… If you want more personalised advice on whether sleep dentistry is right for you and the best type of sedation to suit your needs, come in and see us for a sedation consultation. Easily book online now in just a few clicks.

Sleep dentistry consultation at Green Door Dental
Come in and see us for your sleep dentistry consultation where we will determine the best type of sedation to suit your needs.

What is sleep dentistry?

Sleep dentistry refers to any dental procedure that is carried out while the patient is under sedation. It involves the use of sedatives and/or anaesthesia to help reduce the pain, anxiety and fear associated with dental treatments. Sedation works by slowing down your central nervous system, leading you to feel relaxed and drowsy. Some types of sedation also reduce your awareness of and reaction to external stimuli, such as the sound and feeling of dental tools.


What are the different types of dental sedation?

At Green Door Dental, we offer a few different types of sedation, including IV sedation. To determine which type of sedation is right for you, you’ll need to book a consultation appointment so we can discuss your needs.

IV sedation (or twilight sedation)

Twilight sedation is administered via an intravenous (IV) drip into your hand or arm. It involves a controlled dose of sedative, anaesthetic and pain relief medications. Once IV sedation takes effect, you’ll feel extremely relaxed and sleepy — some patients may even fall asleep. Under twilight sedation, you’ll still technically be ‘awake’ and somewhat aware of your surroundings, but you won’t be as reactive to what is going on around you. You’ll also be given a local anaesthetic so you won’t feel any discomfort or pain during the procedure. Due to its amnesic effect, you’ll feel like barely any time has passed when you ‘wake up’ from twilight sedation — even if you’ve undergone a major 3-hour procedure.

Common questions:

1- What dental procedures is IV sedation best for?

Sedation is ideal for patients who are dental phobic and find it difficult to undergo dental procedures without some help. It can also be useful when fine or fiddly dental work needs to be done, requiring patients to keep completely still.

2- When is the IV drip administered during the appointment? How long does it take to ‘kick in’?

The drip is put in as soon as you are seated in the chair, or sometimes while we are waiting for the chair to be free. It can take 1-2 minutes before you are dreamy, but rest assured that no dentistry will begin until you are well and truly comfortable.

3- Does the IV drip stay in my arm the whole time? Does it hurt to administer it?

The drip stays in the entire time you are being sedated. The drip is tiny, but can sting a little as it goes in. There may also be a slight stinging sensation in your vein as the infusions start but this only lasts a few moments.

4 - Is it possible to be under twilight sedation and still feel pain?

It is very unlikely. Some patients are more or less sensitive to the medications used, or resistant to local anaesthetic effects, however the doctor administering your sedation is watching you throughout every moment of the procedure, and will increase pain relief at any sign (through monitoring vital signs and body language) of discomfort or agitation.

Dentist discusses types of sedation available at Green Door Dental with patient.
Sedation is ideal for patients who are dental phobic and find it difficult to undergo dental procedures without some help. It can also be useful when fine or fiddly dental work needs to be done, requiring patients to keep completely still.

5- How long does the anaesthetic take to wear off?

Most people are awake and making sense within 15 minutes of their anaesthetic drip being ceased. The agents we use are very short acting and our patients are back to normal by the time they get up out of the chair.

There are ever decreasing amounts of anaesthetic medication in your bloodstream for some time after the infusion finishes. However, the ‘mind altering’ medicine element of the procedure will see you legally unable to drive, sign legal documents or use heavy machinery for 24 hours.

6 - What are the side effects of IV sedation?

The most common side effects are nausea and a lingering feeling of drowsiness and fatigue. Occasionally, patients will wake with a mild headache.

7 - What if I can’t ‘wake up’?

Everyone is awake after 15-20 minutes after the infusion ceases. We have never had a patient who couldn’t wake up. If a patient has had poor sleep before their procedure, after they have woken up, they may choose to have a snooze in the chair for some time after the procedure. We do try to facilitate this if possible. We may have to gently wake you from your snooze however if the next case is due to start.

8 - How is twilight IV sedation different to general anaesthesia?

With twilight sedation, patients are put into a sleep-like state but remain conscious and responsive during their procedure. Under general anaesthesia (GA), patients are completely unconscious for their entire treatment and it can take a few hours for the patient to become fully responsive again afterwards. Twilight sedation is considered to be safer than GA, with fewer side effects and a faster recovery time. It also costs less and can be administered outside of a hospital.

Oral sedation

At Green Door Dental, we use sedation that can be taken orally at our practice one hour prior to your treatment. It can be used for both routine appointments, such as dental fillings, and more complex procedures like wisdom teeth removals and dental implants. Much like twilight sedation, this is a form of conscious sedation where you’ll be awake but very relaxed, drowsy and unconcerned about what is happening during your procedure.

What are the benefits of oral sedation over IV or other methods?


- No IV (less pain, no potential for infection or bleeding)

- Less complicated

- Most affordable option


- Less sedating

- More awareness

Inhaler sedation

Another type of sedation we use at our dental practice is Penthrox — also known as ‘the green whistle’. If you’ve ever watched Bondi Rescue or paramedic shows, you’ll have seen the green whistle in action before.This form of sedation provides rapid-onset analgesia (or pain relief). It is hand-held and allows patients (including children) to self-administer the level of sedation through inhalation — under supervision, of course.

 Common questions:

1- What kinds of dental procedures is it best for?

This is great for general treatments like check-up and cleans.

2- What is inside the ‘green whistle’?

Methoxyflurane – a modern form of the traditional anaesthetic agent ether.

3- How long does it take to ‘kick in’ and when does it wear off?

It takes six to ten breaths to start working, and will provide pain relief for 1-2 minutes. You will be advised to keep breathing deeply, until you feel comfortable.

4- What are the potential side effects?

Rarely someone might experience headache or dizziness after using it.

5 - What are the benefits of this form of sedation over others?

No needles and short duration of action - the effects are gone in minutes after inhaling the green whistle.

Ready to make your dental visits a dream?

Book your sedation consultation online now — it only takes a minute. ‍ Not quite ready? Download our new patient guide to find out more about us including prices, payment plan options and info on health funds.

Is sleep dentistry safe?

Absolutely! Sleep dentistry and sedation is completely safe when administered under the supervision of a medical professional — like our medical anaesthetists Dr Peter Andrews and Dr Zoe Rodgers. Dr Andrews and Dr Rodgers administer and monitor all sedation procedures at Green Door Dental. Additionally, we carry out yearly medical emergency training so all of our staff are well-equipped to handle these procedures and the potential risks.

IV sedation in Moss Vale
Sleep dentistry and IV sedation are perfectly safe when administered under the supervision of a medical professional. All you need to do is sit back and drift off while we work on your smile.

Is sleep dentistry suitable for everyone?

The different types of sedation we offer at Green Door Dental mean that there’s a suitable sedation option for almost all patients — including children.

Sleep dentistry is most commonly used for patients with mild to severe dental anxiety. Most people who are anxious about visiting the dentist tend to opt for IV sedation and try to get as much done in one appointment as possible. For example, they may book a long appointment under twilight sedation to get their check-up and clean, as well as a dental crown and a couple of fillings.

But sleep dentistry isn’t just reserved for anxious patients. Sedation can also make dental procedures more comfortable and manageable for people who:

- Have a sensitive gag reflex

- Find it difficult to keep their mouth open for long periods of time

- Need lengthy or complex dental treatments

Sedation dentistry may be used for any treatment, including:

- Check-up and cleans

- Tooth extractions, such as wisdom teeth removal

- Dental fillings

- Root canal therapy

- Gum disease treatment

- Dental implants

- All-on-4

How do you monitor patients during sleep dentistry?

We monitor heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation, and also their facial and body language.

What should I do or not do in the lead up to my sleep dentistry?

Sedation requires you to refrain from eating for the six hours before your procedure, but you may continue to drink clear fluids, like black tea or black coffee, apple juice, and beef broth up until 2 hours before your procedure. Avoid dairy-based drinks as it slows stomach emptying, and avoid acidic things like orange juice.

We also recommend you refrain from wearing hand cream (this makes it tricky for the IV dressing to stick), and please do not wear nail polish - it can interfere with the oxygen saturation monitoring.

IV sedation Gregory Hills
Did you know Medicare rebates are available for IV sedation? Just ask our friendly reception staff about sedation fees and how to claim your rebate.

How much does sleep dentistry cost?

Sleep dentistry fees depend on the type of sedation used. Oral sedation costs $90 and the inhaler (Penthrox) costs $85. For IV sedation, the fee will be determined by the duration of your sedation procedure. This is charged in 30-minute increments and each starts at $400. It’s also important to note that the fee for sedation is paid in addition to the fee for your treatment.

Medicare rebates are available for IV sedation. On the day of your procedure, you will be given a receipt which you can use to claim your rebate. Generally, you’ll receive a rebate of around half the costs.

Remember to phone a friend

If you have any form of dental sedation, you will need to arrange for a responsible adult, such as a partner, family member or friend, to pick you up and take you home after your procedure. You will not be able to drive yourself.

Want to experience dental care without the fear?

Sleep dentistry may be the solution.Come in for your sedation consultation where we’ll talk you through your sedation options and discuss whether sleep dentistry is right for you. Book online now — it only takes a minute.


Got a question about sedation and sleep dentistry? Simply give us a call or send us a message — we’re here to help.



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