We're blessed to live in an age of amazing, ever-evolving dental technology; less pain, little or no blood, and vanilla-scented nose cones for the nitrous oxide hook-up.
So why don't more of us make the trip to our dental professional at least twice a year to be poked, prodded, and cleansed to avoid complicated and expensive future problems?
Oh sure, it takes time, you're one of millions of people who experience dental anxiety, it might hurt, and money will change hands. But do you really think that tiny little problem will go away by itself? Every year 1-1/2 million people lose their teeth from periodontal disease and get dentures.
Most dental professionals understand dental anxiety and have ingenious ways to prevent pain, which is the prevailing reason we fear the dental experience (they can't touch me without the nitrous). Dental anxiety keeps people from having checkups because something could be wrong and then they have more problems because they didn't go to the dentist.
Inhalation conscious sedation therapy is a combination of nitrous oxide and oxygen, commonly known as laughing gas. It's based on the concept of inhalation analgesia and anesthesia. In other words, when you breathe in the nitrous oxide you'll be aware of what's happening to you and you just won't care, much, until the procedure you're undergoing is over. Then you care again.
A high level of anxiety may delay the effects of nitrous oxide. It takes me longer than most people to get ready to begin any procedure because after all of my experiences I'm just a little bit anxious when I get into the chair. My dental professionals understand this and keep checking on me until I say, "I'm ready." I always ask whoever is in charge of the nitrous to turn it up, and whoever it is always tells me that it's turned all the way up and I should just breathe more deeply. I reply that if I were to breathe more deeply I'd hyperventilate.
The machine is checked to make sure it's working properly and something incriminating may be written on my chart such as, "problem patient, agitated," when I'm not really a problem at all. If any of these people had been through what I've been through, they'd wonder why I wasn't having convulsions.
Nitrous oxide makes time spent in the dental chair less stressful for the patient (it takes the edge off) and the dental professional. When patients are more relaxed, it's easier for dental professionals to do their job. Recovery is prompt and you can walk out of the office and drive immediately.
Sound therapy (music), topical gels and patches, oral conscious sedation therapy (Valium, Halcion, Dalmane, Versed), intravenous conscious sedation therapy (IV) and hypnotism can also be used to calm the savage dental patient.
Get the nitrous!
Nitrous oxide and novocaine can't help everyone. My friend, Meredith, said, "Saundra, I get at least 3 shots of whatever the next generation past xylocaine is. That's after the topical numbing. Novocaine isn't strong enough. Elephants have been shot dead with less drugs than it takes to work on my teeth." You can visit Meredith at www.meredithbead.com to see her custom-made jewelry.
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