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Sedation Dentistry

Posted by Peter Samuels on Tue, Sep 16, 2014 @ 14:09 PM

 

Being afraid of going to the dentist is a common problem, but your overall health can also suffer when you ignore dental care. If you have dental phobia, it’s important to understand why.   

Common Causes of Dental Phobia

  • One of the most common fears is of pain.  Often this fear is not based on reality but rather on second hand horror stories passed down from other people. Parents, for example, can unwittingly pass their own unfounded anxieties on to their children.
  • The fear of dental injections or even the fear that the anesthetic will not work is common. This is particularly true of people suffering from needle phobia.   
  • Some people are afraid of side effects from anesthesia. For example, they’re fearful of feeling dizzy, faint or nauseated.
  • A fear of feeling helpless and out of control is very common. Often this fear overlaps with claustrophobia.

Communicate Your Fears with Your Dentist

Share your fears with your dentist. This is the best way to overcome dental phobia. In other words, tell your dental hygienist and dentist what scares you before you’re treated.

Be transparent about any negative past experiences. Fortunately, most dental procedures have vastly improved over the past few decades and aren't as traumatizing as they were years ago. What's more, ask your dentist to explain what’s involved in a procedure.  Often, simply communicating that when you raise your hand the dentist will immediately stop, can turn a scary procedure into and easy one!

 

Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry is an extremely effective treatment of dental phobia

Although it’s often called “sleep dentistry,” patients aren't usually asleep, but are comfortably sedated with various medications. There are several ways the sedation medications can be administered:

  • Oral sedation involves taking an oral medication, such as valium, before a dental procedure.  This can reduce anxiety and take the edge off the procedure.   
  • IV sedation works quickly, allowing your anesthesia trained dentist or anesthesiologist to make constant adjustments in sedation levels. Time will go by very quickly and you will often have little memory of the procedure.  Often, with IV sedation, years of necessary dental treatment can be caught up in one comfortable appointment. 
  • General and deep sedation may also be used. This kind of sedation is usually reserved for the hospital setting or an oral surgeon’s office. Wisdom teeth, for instance, are often removed under deep sedation by an oral surgeon. 

The bottom line is to be proactive about your dental fears. Simply ask your dentist what can be done to make a procedure more comfortable. When I understand what makes my patients fearful, I can better determine how to lower their anxiety, putting them more at ease. 

Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland Dental School.

Topics: Sedation dentist Gettysburg, gettysburg sleep dentist, sleep dentist Gettysburg, Gettysburg sedation dentist

Gettysburg Dentist Makes Sleep Apnea Appliances

Posted by Peter Samuels on Fri, Jul 25, 2014 @ 10:07 AM

 

 

dental sleep appliances

 

Sleep apnea is a serious, sometimes fatal medical condition.  A partial obstruction of the airway leads to shallow and even paused breaths throughout the night.  This, in turn, causes the patient to fall out of rejuvenating deep sleep in order to "catch his breath," even though he doesn't wake up enough to remember doing so.

The most immediate symptom of sleep apnea is chronic, unexplained  tiredness.  However, there are more serious complications to it as well, including a variety of heart conditions, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes.  The body needs restful sleep.

A common solution is a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, which consists of a face mask that forces pressurized air through the mouth and/or nose, keeping airways open.  The result is a better, deeper, and healthier sleep.

But what can I do if I can't wear CPAP?  Maybe the air compressor is so loud it disrupts sleep even more than the apnea.  Maybe my skin keeps breaking out in rashes in reaction to the mask, or perhaps the force of air has dried out my nose and throat to the point of nosebleeds, sinus issues, and a sore throat.  And forget sleeping on my stomach!  Or maybe I've just tried a variety of masks and found that none of them work for my particular face.

One alternative is an oral appliance worn in the mouth during sleep.  It is far less invasive than a CPAP machine and is silent, which is a relief to both me and my sleeping partner!  The appliance fits like a mouth guard and subtly repositions the jaw to open up airways and keep them open, allowing a deeper, less interrupted, and more regenerative sleep.

These oral appliances need to be properly fitted by a dentist trained in their use.  This includes evaluation of exactly what type of appliance will work best for you, measurement of your mouth for proper fitting, and the creation of the appliance itself.

by Peter J. Samuels, DDS

Topics: snore appliance, gettysburg sleep dentist, gettysburg sleep apnea, dental snore appliance, sleep dentist Gettysburg

Gettysburg Dentist discusses Dental Phobia Treatment

Posted by Peter Samuels on Wed, Apr 9, 2014 @ 19:04 PM

 

 Sedation Dentist

A fear of dentists is a very real problem for thousands of people.  Whether they've had a negative experience at a dentist previously or they've heard horror stories from friends and family members, fear often multiplies, causing loads of dental problems.  The treatment of dental phobia is incredibly beneficial to oral health and better overall whole-body health.

It may sound silly to people who have had good experiences with their dental practitioner, but dental phobia is a real and common phenomenon.  Fortunately for fearful patients, there are various treatment options available that allow patients to have the dental care that they need while alleviating a lot of their anxiety.

Experienced dentists understand dental phobias and will work with anxious patients to alleviate their anxiety before it can become a problem.  Dentists with experience in the treatment of phobic patients can calmly explain the process of the treatment and put the patient in control.  They make sure that the patient understands what's going to happen, and they ask for permission to continue the treatment.  This gives patients a sense of control over their treatments, and removes a lot of the out-of-control feelings that often accompany dental treatments.

For patients who are experiencing dental phobia, several suggestions have proven to be successful.

1. Go to your first visit with a friend or family member that you know well and trust.  Sometimes having a friendly and familiar face is all that's needed to make the process run a lot more smoothly.  Your friend (preferably one who has sufficient experience in the dental office as a patient) can assuage your fears before they have a chance to become overwhelming. 

2. While receiving treatment, find a way to distract yourself from the procedure itself.  Many dentists will play music or have a TV available in the treatment room to keep an anxious patient's mind off of what's happening.  If a TV is not available, listen to music on headphones and don't pay attention to what the dentist is doing.

3. Some dentists now offer sedation dentistry, which can relax an anxious patient and allow necessary treatments to occur without undue stress. With I.V. sedation anesthesia safely provided by an anesthesiologist, years of work can often be caught up in one, comfortable visit. Most patients feel like they were in the chair for just a few minutes!

4. Practice relaxation techniques.  Anxiety is often accompanied with shallow, light breathing, which can make stress feel even more profound.  Simply practicing deep breathing techniques can make a world of difference in a patient's mental state, and don't be afraid to ask to take a break if things start to seem too overwhelming. 

The most important thing for patients with dental phobia to remember is that they need to find a dental office and dentist they feel comfortable with.  Finding a dentist you can trust is incredibly important.  The more comfortable you feel with your dental practitioner, the more likely you will be to continue to be treated for any issues that may arise.  If patients distrust their dentist, they're likely to skip appointments or refuse to make them when there is a problem.  Finding the right dental office is worth the effort if it means treating problems sooner rather than later.   By practicing good oral care and nipping potential issues in the bud, extensive treatments may not be necessary - and regular checkups can identify and tackle issues before they become problems.

Topics: Sedation dentist Gettysburg, sleep dentist Gettysburg

Sleep Dentistry in Gettysburg

Posted by Peter Samuels on Wed, Mar 12, 2014 @ 16:03 PM

Gettysburg sedation dentist

 

According to Peter Milgrom, DDS, director of the Dental Fears Research Clinic at the University of Washington in Seattle, about 20% of Americans experience fear of dentistry to the extent that they avoid dental visits altogether. Of this group, between 5% and 8% are considered to have a severe dental phobia. The difference is this: a fear is an emotional response to a perceived threat that causes mild to moderate anxiety. A phobia is a condition in which the fear is so strong it interferes with a person’s quality of life or their ability to function.

For the purposes of this article, however, the word “phobia” is used to denote whatever level of anxiety prevents a person from receiving regular dental care.

Most people who have a fear of dentistry have had a frightening or painful dental experience in the past, and this is especially common among persons over forty who received dental treatment when the technologies used were not as advanced as those in use today.

So what are the options for treatment of dental phobia?

The possibilities vary depending on the extent of the phobia. Norman Corah's Dental Questionnaire is an assessment tool used to measure dental fear. The highest possible score on the questionnaire is 20; a score of 15 or higher indicates the type of severe anxiety that is termed dental phobia, while a score of 13-14 denotes a very high level of anxiety.

A score higher than 9 on the 20 point assessment is said to signify moderate anxiety; a level which can be treated by managing specific stressors. For example, some people are afraid of the sound and/or vibration of the drill, while others are intensely troubled by the sound of scraping during teeth cleaning. Others’ anxiety is triggered by the antiseptic smells in the dentist’s office.

These types of stressors can be treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a technique in which negative patterns of thought are challenged in order to alter unwanted behavior patterns. Learning and practicing relaxation techniques can also be effective. Sometimes a dentist will prescribe anti-anxiety medications for you to take just prior to your appointment (in this case you will not be able to drive yourself to the appointment).

For more severe anxiety, or for people who lack the time and/or money to pursue a therapeutic intervention, sedation dentistry is the treatment of choice. The process used for sedation dentistry is the same one used for a colonoscopy, and is also known as conscious sedation. In this procedure medications are administered by a medical anesthesiologist and leave you semi-conscious: you will be able to answer questions and respond to conversation, but you will be very relaxed and time will seem to go by very fast.  Many people say it felt like they were in the chair for just five minutes and they were done!

Sedation dentistry is an affordable, safe and effective procedure which can be your path to healthy teeth and gums, along with a beautiful smile.  If you’ve been putting off getting your teeth fixed and your mouth healthy, give us a call!

Topics: Sedation dentist Gettysburg, gettysburg sleep dentist, sleep dentist Gettysburg, Gettysburg sedation dentist

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