Sleep Dentistry - Safety First!

Sleep Dentistry Photo

The most common procedure a preschooler will undergo with a general anesthetic is dentistry! Tens of thousands of anesthetics are performed each year in Canada for dental procedures in kids and with a high level of safety. Once in a while I will read on the internet about a mishap in a dental office. It breaks my heart. When I read on there are usually 3 key reasons why this happened, and all are preventable.

First, there is a lack of respect for sedation. Comments by staff or even the dentist telling parents that “there is nothing to worry about, it's perfectly safe”, perhaps demonstrate a lack of understanding of the potential risks. Nothing is “perfect”, anything can happen and you have to be prepared for it. That leads us to the second problem, which is training. Sleep dentistry requires a lot of training — a full three years! It is not a weekend or week-long course, but training in every aspect of sleep dentistry; including preparing for the worst. This includes CPR or even basic emergency preparations. Last, you read of dentists still trying to complete procedures despite deterioration in the patient's health under sedation.

This is why we take every sedation procedure seriously. It starts with a consultation. Understanding your health status, the risks associated with sleep dentistry, identifying the patient's needs, wants with a realistic expectation of the surgical day, and knowing your role in providing a safe outcome are thoroughly discussed during the consultation. It is not a free 15 minute consultation. Our staff undergo routine training in emergency management for even things like power failures. Above all, we put every patient's safety first. Even if it means cancellation of a day or stopping a procedure short. No one can guaranty that nothing will happen, but I will guaranty that we will always do our best to manage every complication competently.

Dr. Toong