Professional Opinion

Professional Opinion: Going to the dentist? There are fewer reasons to fret today

Dr. Stephen Durham
Dr. Stephen Durham Submitted photo
This week, Dr. Stephen Durham of Durham Dental in Beaufort discusses dental sedation and how this new treatment may help curb the fear or anxiety sometimes

associated with going to the dentist.

Question: A friend of mine was talking about how much she disliked getting her teeth cleaned and is now getting sedated when she goes to the dentist. Is this a common thing and what all does this entail?

Answer: According to Web MD, 9 to 20 percent of Americans state that they avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety or fear.

This fear can prevent people from getting the necessary care, including routine preventative hygiene visits, they need in order to keep their mouths healthy and free of infection.

Bad previous experiences, fear of injections, claustrophobia and bad gag reflexes normally top the lists of reasons to avoid dental offices.

Thanks to advanced training, modern medicines and safe monitoring techniques, there are ways to avoid the "dread" of going to the dentist.

The medicines that are used in sedation dentistry have an amnesic effect. That means that patients will have little, if any, memory of the visit.

Most patients are amazed how much can be accomplished in what seems like such a short visit.

If you are having sedated treatment, you will be asked to bring along a companion the day of your visit -- someone that can drive you to and from the appointment and stay with you until you have recovered.

Normally, by the next day, patients will feel like their normal selves.

The process starts by making an appointment to discuss your concerns and for your dentist to give you more information on the process.

This would be followed by a "look and see" exam in order to plan what treatment needs are there.

The next step is to give you a prescription for a sedative to take the night before your appointment to help you get a good night's sleep.

Your companion would bring you to the office. Additional medications will be provided to create the best relaxation. You would be safely monitored throughout the entire visit.

Once the work is completed, your companion will take you home and stay with you throughout recovery.

We are living in a wonderful time where the "high fear" dental patient can get the care that they need, and deserve, done in a safe, anxiety-free manner.

All it takes now is the initiative to call and make an appointment with a dentist that is trained to perform safe sedation dentistry.

Follow reporter Mindy Lucas on Twitter at twitter.com/MindyatIPBG.

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