Many people experience such intense dental anxiety that they avoid going to the dentist until absolutely necessary. Sedation dentistry (sometimes called sleep dentistry) relaxes you in order to give you a more comfortable experience. Sedation might not be the only way to decrease your fear, however. Improving your sleep quality alongside sedation might help relieve your tension. Recent studies have found that sleep quality might play a part in dental anxiety, and that fear of the dentist might play a part in sleep quality.
Poor Sleep Causes Increased Anxiety
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley published a study in June 2012 that investigated the impact of sleep deprivation on anxious responses. The study included 18 healthy young adults who did not meet any criteria for anxiety disorders. Participants viewed a series of pleasant and unpleasant images during two different sessions; one after adequate slumber, the other after a sleepless night.
Researchers monitored brain activity using fMRI while participants viewed either disturbing or neutral images. In order to trigger an anticipatory emotional response, researchers used 3 visual signals to let participants know what kind of image to expect. A red minus sign signaled an unpleasant image such as a death scene. A yellow circle indicated a neutral image such as an inanimate object. The third signal, a white question mark, indicated that the participant would either see a positive or negative image.
When shown a red minus sign or a white question mark, activity in the brain’s emotional processing centers soared when participants had little rest. The fMRI scans showed the most activity in parts of the amygdala associated with negative emotions. With adequate sleep, participants showed decreased anxious anticipatory responses. Based on their research, it is possible that poor rest increases all anxious responses, including dental anxiety.
Does Dental Anxiety Reduce Sleep Quality?
A recent study published in February 2015 found that patients with high dental anxiety reported poor sleep quality. In order to study this relationship, the study included 67 people with dental anxiety, 54 people with sensitive gag reflexes, and 100 controls with no history of either. Of the anxiety group, 49.3% received inadequate rest compared to 38.9% of the gag reflex group and 29% of the control. Researchers did not investigate whether the anxious feelings caused the disturbances, or if it was exacerbated by participants’ lack of shuteye.
Relax with Oral Sedation
If dental anxiety does decrease rest quality, this intense fear of the dentist might perpetuate itself. If you experience dental anxiety, it is possible that your feelings interrupt your slumber, and that the resulting tiredness will further increase your anxious response. You don’t have to let your fear control you. Sedation dentistry (also called sleep dentistry) can help keep you stay calm during dental work in order to give you a comfortable experience. During your visit, sedation will put you into a relaxed state that makes you less sensitive to sights, smells, and sounds that ordinarily cause your distress. You will also enjoy a pain-free visit.
If you want to find out whether or not sedation dentistry is right for you, please call (407) 834-6446 or contact us online to set up an appointment with Orlando sedation dentist, Dr. Michael L. Weinstock today.