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New Orleans Dental Center Newsletter - December, 2010
Return to: Current Newsletter - Newsletter Archives - Dental Health Topics

HOW SEDATION DENTISTRY TAKES THE ANXIETY AWAY.
Byline: Steven Rosen Correspondent

Donna Bronson has suffered from dental anxiety since childhood. Yet the 39-year-old Pasadena art director is completely unperturbed as she reclines in the chair at her dentist office. With a red blanket draped across her lap, she has that faraway smile of someone who is very happy.

And with good reason.

Just before being driven here by her husband, she took a prescription sedative - a 0.25-milligram-strength triazolam (tri-azo-lam) better known as Halcion and commonly used as a prescription sleeping aid.

At the office, Bronson's dentist gives her a second, equal dosage - he has chopped it up and pours it into her mouth via a small envelope. A pulse oximeter attached to a finger monitors her pulse, blood pressure and oxygen saturation rate.

"I'm going to turn the lights down now and let you relax,'' he says. "I'm right here. I'll go and talk to your husband. You're OK.''

What Bronson's dentist is practicing is known variously as sedation dentistry, oral sedation or conscious sedation, and dentists across the nation have, in recent years, taken it up to appeal to otherwise-fearful patients who need extensive work.

Michael Silverman, who founded the 2,600-member, for-profit Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation in 2000 says, "Dentists have to know how to assess the medical condition of a patient to tell if he's healthy to have the procedure done. A patient who is healthy gets a green light. There's no risk.''

Proponents of sedation dentistry point to a 1998 article in Journal of the American Dental Association finding that 30 percent of Americans are, "somewhat nervous, very nervous or terrified about going to the dentist.''

Bronson certainly fits that bill.

"When I was very young, I had a fever, and my molars didn't close completely,'' she explains, several days before her dental appointment. "So decay was inevitable. At a young age, my molars had to have fillings. And when I had braces, they had to pull four teeth to make room for my wisdom teeth. And I had to have a root canal. This was all before age 13. So it seemed to me my teeth would always be my Achilles heel.''

After college, she just stopped going. But last year, after her husband read an article about sedation dentistry in Popular Science, she looked into it. So far, she's glad she did. Before this latest work, she had made it through a previous four-hour appointment.

"This way I'm not completely out, yet I'm relaxed and not concerned and had no sense of time. And afterward, I slept very hard.''

Silverman says what he's advocating isn't a new idea - just a new tool.

"For a long, long time, we've been trying to take the fear and anxiety and pain out of dentistry,'' he says.

While such sedation looks to become more popular, it's not for everyone who gets nervous in a dentist's chair. Because patients must be driven by someone else and then must sleep off the effects of the sedation, it's most appropriate for those needing significant dental work.

Contact us today to find out more about sedation dentistry and to schedule a consultation. Call us today at: 504-347-6000.


*reprinted from the ADA website
 


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New Orleans Dental Center
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Harvey, LA 70058
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