Tooth Terrors HOW WE CAN HELP YOU OVERCOME YOUR FEARS
Brian R. Summers DMD, PhD Patrick V. Hagerty, DMD
Calapooia Courier October 2019
Dentists can sometimes feel like the boogeymen of the health sciences. Many people in the U.S. fear going to the dentist, and, in fact, nearly 10% of Americans avoid dental appointments because of this paralyzing fear.
teeth on and avoid jaw pain, and we have medication options that
can ease a patient’s anxiety. (The oral medication does
require someone to drive you around!)
In addition to these soft techniques, we have stronger methods. We offer
I’m proud to say that many of my patients don’t see me as a scary monster who is going to cause them pain, but I can understand where this
nitrous oxide — or laughing gas — for patients who want to remain conscious but also feel
fear comes from. I have plenty of patients who fear the pain that may come from dental work, who worry about needles when it comes to numbing, and who are affected by severe gum and tooth sensitivity. In addition, some patients don’t like being numbed, while others have anxiety about how long their appointment may last. These fears can be debilitating, and it’s understandable. perception. I’ve heard horror stories from more than one patient about their childhood dentist telling them they were numb when, in fact, they were not. Instead of fixing the problem, these dentists supposedly went ahead with their procedures. I once bragged that my mom says I give the best numbing injections, but besides being a really great joke, I humbly admit that this is true. I once had a patient who had high anxiety but refused any sedation methods we offered at Calapooia Family Dental. Cautiously, I went ahead with her root canal. At the end of her appointment she looked at me and said, “Oh, it didn’t hurt. Is that how it’s supposed to be?” It’s unfortunate that one bad dental experience can influence a patient’s
totally relaxed. The side effects of laughing gas disappear quickly, and most patients can drive themselves home. Some patients may prefer a combination of oral medication and laughing gas for the perfect dosage to curb their anxiety levels. Of course, we can also offer IV sedation in the clinic to lull patients into “la la land,” as we like to call it. Patients are conscious but feel as if they are asleep. This nice thing about this option is the amnesia effect. Patients will not remember the treatment, and therefore, the anxiety is bypassed. Lastly, if patients have a paralyzing fear of the dentist, Calapooia Family Dental has privileges at hospitals in Albany, Lebanon, and Corvallis, where we can administer general anesthesia. When patients are put under like this, we like to get as much treatment and work done as we can. This can limit a patient’s fear while providing the dental work they need. There’s nothing wrong with needing a little extra guidance to get you through your dental appointment. I would never want a patient to avoid the dentist because they fear what might happen in the chair. There are options available, and it all starts with finding what will work for you.
I couldn’t help but smile when I said, “Yeah, it’s not supposed to hurt.”
I pride myself and my practice on the ability to make the dental experience as comfortable for patients as possible. I encourage patients to talk to us if they are feeling anxious or nervous. We can talk them through their anxiety, offer “teeth pillows” to rest their
Let us help you find it.
-Dr. Brian Summers
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