Posts for: April, 2015
For some people, going to the dentist is just like any other routine healthcare visit that they manage without any qualms. For others, the experience can cause some trepidation or even anxiety. In fact, some people even contemplate canceling appointments and neglecting their oral healthcare. If the latter better describes how you or someone you know feels about going to the dentist — even for a routine exam and cleaning — then we have great news for you! We offer our patients oral sedation (sedation dentistry) that allows you to relax both your mind and body so that you can focus on feeling peaceful and at ease rather than anxious.
What is oral sedation?
Often referred to as “comfortable” or “relaxation” dentistry, sedation dentistry offers an approach to dentistry that includes gentle management of your anxiety by using an anti-anxiety prescription medication that simply dissolves away your anxiety. The medications are administered by mouth (orally) to help transition you from feeling nervous to a more comfortable state of being.
Is it easy to take?
Another reason oral sedation is so popular is because it does not require an injection (shot), so, if you are afraid of needles, you simply do not need to worry. Typically, a pill is first placed under your tongue (sub-lingually) where it dissolves and penetrates the skin going straight into your system and then the rest is simply swallowed. This method and the quick-acting sedation medication make relaxation both effective and safe.
Is it safe?
Pharmacists and health professionals measure medications' effectiveness by measuring their “therapeutic index.” The larger the number is on this scale, the safer the drug. The oral sedation medications we use have the highest numbers possible on this scale and thus they are the least likely to cause any adverse (negative) reactions.
Want to learn more?
Did you see the move Cast Away starring Tom Hanks? If so, you probably remember the scene where Hanks, stranded on a remote island, knocks out his own abscessed tooth — with an ice skate, no less — to stop the pain. Recently, Dear Doctor TV interviewed Gary Archer, the dental technician who created that special effect and many others.
“They wanted to have an abscess above the tooth with all sorts of gunk and pus and stuff coming out of it,” Archer explained. “I met with Tom and I took impressions [of his mouth] and we came up with this wonderful little piece. It just slipped over his own natural teeth.” The actor could flick it out with his lower tooth when the time was right during the scene. It ended up looking so real that, as Archer said, “it was not for the easily squeamish!”
That’s for sure. But neither is a real abscess, which is an infection that becomes sealed off beneath the gum line. An abscess may result from a trapped piece of food, uncontrolled periodontal (gum) disease, or even an infection deep inside a tooth that has spread to adjacent periodontal tissues. In any case, the condition can cause intense pain due to the pressure that builds up in the pus-filled sac. Prompt treatment is required to relieve the pain, keep the infection from spreading to other areas of the face (or even elsewhere in the body), and prevent tooth loss.
Treatment involves draining the abscess, which usually stops the pain immediately, and then controlling the infection and removing its cause. This may require antibiotics and any of several in-office dental procedures, including gum surgery, a root canal, or a tooth extraction. But if you do have a tooth that can’t be saved, we promise we won’t remove it with an ice skate!
The best way to prevent an abscess from forming in the first place is to practice conscientious oral hygiene. By brushing your teeth twice each day for two minutes, and flossing at least once a day, you will go a long way towards keeping harmful oral bacteria from thriving in your mouth.
If you have any questions about gum disease or abscesses, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Periodontal (Gum) Abscesses” and “Confusing Tooth Pain.”