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Don’t be Scared Toothless!

Sunday, May 04, 2014   by: Dr. Biasucci

Don’t be Scared Toothless!

Today I’d like to talk about sedation options for dentistry.  Let’s face it, the dentist office is not topping the list of favorite places to go for most people, but there is a large segment of the population – as much as 50% of North Americans who are outright scared of the dentist, and cringe when they hear the sound of the drill, think about getting a needle or any of the other things the happen during the normal course of treatment.  As much as we all try our best to never cause pain, the whole process can be less than fun even if you are not in pain during treatment. 

The real problem is where fear of the dentist causes someone to delay and cancel visits, eventually not attending for long periods of time, even for many years, and then the problems they have are so severe that we are talking about multiple fillings, root canals, and tooth loss.  What’s most unfortunate is that if you have gum disease, you can go all the way from mild gum disease which is completely reversible, to advanced gum disease to the point where teeth are falling out on their own and have NO PAIN!  While having no pain may sound palatable on the surface because you think – I can just get false teeth, think again.  A set of false teeth will function only about 20% as well as your own teeth, even if your own teeth have problems – why?  Because they are not anchored to the jaws – they are just sitting on the gums.  Most people who have lower dentures despise them.  In order to improve chewing ability and quality of life, we end up placing dental implants for these folks, which provide anchors for the denture to the jaws.  These anchors cost several thousands of dollars as well as an investment of time.  If you do the math vs keeping your own teeth – even if it means a few visits to the dentist every year, you win hands down by keeping your teeth!

So how do you go about this if you are part of the 50% who are scared of the dentist and therefore avoiding treatment you need?  Don’t be scared toothless!  There is an answer.

Conscious sedation for dentistry is the answer to getting all your dental needs handled without the fear and anxiety, sights and sounds associated with fear of the dentist. 

There are three options for sedation.

The first is nitrous oxide gas, a.k.a. laughing gas.  It has been used for nearly 100 years and is safe and effective.  It takes the edge off but you are awake, you know what is going on, just a lot more relaxed.  You are fully recovered at the end of treatment and you don’t need a ride to and from the office.  It is great for mild anxiety.

The next option which is often the best choice for most people is oral conscious sedation.  It works by taking a medication at the beginning of you visit.  When the medication has taken effect, you will be relaxed, you will be able to speak to your dentist and sedation team, but you won’t care what is happening and won’t remember much if any of it.

Let me address something here – one comment we hear often is – “hold on there doc, I had this pill with my dentist before and it didn’t really do anything…”  Yes, every dentist can administer medication to help you relax (mild sedation), however only a few have the additional training, and have had their facilities inspected and certified by the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario to administer moderate conscious sedation.  In my opinion, and 10 years of experience, this is no small point – it is literally the difference between success and failure of the sedation appointment.  If you are not adequately sedated, you will not enjoy your experience, you will still be apprehensive, and remember it.  Please make sure you ask appropriate questions to determine you are getting a sedation option that is right for your level of anxiety.

There is a third option – IV sedation.  As the name implies, an IV line is required.  Since one of the biggest reasons people seek out sedation is fear of needles, this is not a popular option as the placement of an IV line is more uncomfortable than any dental injection (especially if your dentist uses the wand, which is a computerized anesthesia unit).

Your safety is always a priority and for all options you are monitored with a continuous reading pulse-oximeter, blood pressure monitor and heart rate monitor.

We understand that dentistry can be less than fun, but don’t be scared toothless. 

To learn more, go to northerndentalcare.com and download our free guide on conscious sedation.

Contact our office at 705-575-7572 or reception@northerndentalcare.com if you would like to learn more or even have a complimentary office tour and meet our team.

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