Dental phobia and anxiety are common problems which impact whether a patient will attend routine dental care. The phobia or anxiety may be related to a previous bad experience, a fear of needles or a feeling of being out of control when undergoing treatment. It could simply be discomfort from being present in a medical environment.
Very often the time since a patient’s last visit to the dentist can build up further fear or apprehension due to anticipation that some dental problems will be diagnosed and require treatment.
In today’s world, people are aware of the importance of having a nice smile in their working and personal lives. The importance of functioning with a healthy, aesthetic smile, which is easy to maintain, cannot be over-emphasized. Many patients are no longer willing to compromise on their appearance or ability to chew and enjoy food in comfort, and people who are anxious about dental care are no different. Some people may wish to improve their smile and achieve dental health, but are anxious about undergoing dental care; this is perfectly normal. Often these anxieties can be dispelled with a caring attitude and good communication from your dentist, as well as gentle use of effective numbing techniques, all of which form part of our care programme at Advanced Dentistry.
Websites for dental anxiety support, e.g. www.dentalfearcentral.org, are wonderful resources where anxious patients can receive support from fellow patients and caring dentists, helping them on their journey to achieve optimal dental health.
Our team at Advanced Dentistry is also experienced in dental conscious sedation, a technique that uses a sedative medication to gently relieve anxiety in nervous patients and allow them to achieve a nice smile and good oral health. Dentists who have undergone additional post-graduate supervision and training usually carry out modern dental-conscious sedation. Our colleague Jamie Maguire has done just that, and you can find out more about his qualifications in the Our Team section.
One of the simplest forms of sedation is the use of a sedative tablet taken an hour or two prior to the appointment. Oral sedation for dentistry gently calms and relaxes patients, allowing them to proceed with treatment. This technique is very safe and straightforward and, although the effects of the medication wear off quickly, it is important that patients are escorted to and from the clinic.
Intravenous conscious sedation is another invaluable technique used to help those people whose anxiety may be such that a form of sedation more powerful than oral sedation is required to allow them to achieve their dental goals. Intravenous conscious sedation is also preferred to general anaesthesia for potentially difficult surgical procedures e.g. removal of lower wisdom teeth or multiple implant placements; due to the exceptional safety record of conscious sedation, a more pleasant patient experience with fewer side effects, as well as significantly lower costs.
At our clinic, we use a team approach when it comes to intravenous conscious sedation. While Mr Maguire relaxes the patient by carrying out the sedation, another dentist will carry out the required dental treatment. This allows each dentist to concentrate fully on either the treatment or sedation, allowing optimal care to be provided.
To ensure that an appropriate sedation technique is planned, the sedating dentist first assesses prospective candidates for conscious sedation. The assessment involves taking a detailed medical history, as well as assessing the patient’s medical fitness. If it is deemed that conscious sedation is appropriate, a full explanation of the procedure is provided, and an appointment is arranged for treatment.
On the day of the procedure, the patient will arrive with an escort who will accompany them home and look after them for the rest of the day. The sedation drug will make the patient relaxed and a little drowsy, for many, they will have no memory of the treatment. After a short rest in the clinic to ensure that it is safe for the patient to go home with their escort, the patient is discharged, a step further along their road to optimal dental health and the smile that they have dreamed about.
It should be remembered that while sedation may be used initially to restore the dentition to health, it is essential to then embark on a routine programme of maintenance so that gentle, repeated acclimatisation can occur during hygiene visits, allowing the potential for small, future treatments to be carried out with little or no need for sedation.Back to General Dentistry