You may have thought this before or even said it out loud. In our busy dental practice, we hear it every day.
There are many reasons why people feel negatively towards the dentist. Sometimes patients have had bad experiences as a child and that feeling has stuck with them into adulthood; often a patient hasn’t been to the dentist in many years and they are embarrassed about the condition of their teeth and gums – knowing it may take several visits to restore their mouth to a healthy condition. Another predominant reason is the financial aspect; it can be stressful when the dentist tells us we need extensive dental work and don’t know where the money is going to come from.
There have also been occasions where a parent(s) has unintentionally transferred their own fear into their child. When a child hears their Mom or Dad say they hate the dentist, they may start to think the same way, even though they have never had a reason to feel this way. Patients may also have an extreme fear of needles, or think that the visit will be painful. Sometimes it doesn’t have anything to do with the dentist at all; they may experience abusive situations at home, for example, and are not comfortable with the close proximity of the dentist, hygienist or assistant.
As dental professional, it is our responsibility to make every patient as comfortable as possible to ensure a positive experience. As a patient, it is helpful to explain the fear you may have so we can help to ease that anxiety.
There are multiple options available to help alleviate these uneasy feelings:
As standard procedure, we utilize the “tell, show, do” method; we take time to thoroughly explain the specific procedure that is to be performed. We also have multiple sedation options available:
- Nitrous Oxide, or laughing gas – this is a safe and effective sedative agent that is mixed with Oxygen and inhaled through a small mask that fits over your nose. Laughing gas is not intended to put you to sleep; you will be able to hear and respond to the dentist. You will feel the effects of Nitrous Oxide quickly, and may feel slightly light-headed or a tingling sensation in your arms and/or legs – these effects wear off shortly after the mask is removed. The ultimate goal is to make you feel calm and comfortable.
- Halcion – this is an oral form of sedation that is taken as a pill prior to the appointment (usually about an hour). Halcion is a member of the same drug family as Valium. You will feel drowsy after taking the pill, but you will still be awake; a larger dose may be given for moderate sedation. Some patients may become groggy enough to fall asleep during the procedure, but can be woken easily. If you are prescribed Halcion before your appointment, it is important to have a driver – both to and from – your appointment. The effects of Halcion typically begin to wear off between 6-8 hours after the appointment.
- IV Sedation – Dr. Perry works with a team of nurses to provide sedation for wisdom tooth surgery removal. Medications are given through an IV. The patient is able to sleep comfortably through the procedure, with no memory of it afterwards.
- Sleep Dentistry for children (typically age 7 and under) – we can take care of all necessary restorations while the child is asleep. Dr. Mark Bottorff is a board certified Anesthesiologist who spends time in our practice every month.
All of us here at Creekside Dental want to make your visit a pleasant one, and will do everything we can to make it the best experience possible.
Barbara Harris, R.D.H.