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Whether it's the sound of the dental drill or the prospect of pain, it's an understatement to say that many children fear the dentist. Many dentists understand that this can be a problem, so some offer sedation dentistry. 123dentist.com goes into what sedation is and how it can help:
Is Sedation Dentistry Right for you?
With sedation, the dentist administers a drug before or during the dental procedure. Only one type — general anesthesia — renders the patient completely unconscious. The other forms will relax you, but won’t knock you out completely.
The most common types of sedation dentistry include the following:
- Nitrous oxide: A gas that relaxes you during the procedure. It wears off quickly, so your dentist might let you drive yourself home after the appointment.
- Oral sedatives: Oral sedatives, such as diazepam, also help relax patients during dental procedures. You typically take them an hour or so before your appointment. You’re fully awake but less anxious, and you might feel a little sleepy until it wears off.
- Intravenous sedatives: Intravenous, or IV, sedatives can put you in varying stages of consciousness. This is also known as general anesthesia and, as mentioned above, will put you into a deep sleep until it wears off. Other IV drugs, however, can put you into a “twilight sleep.” You’re less aware of your surroundings, you might feel sleepy, and you might not remember much of the procedure once it’s over.
Some patients assume that general anesthesia offers the best solution. However, it also comes with more potential side effects than the other methods, so you might want to consider a lesser form of sedation dentistry. If your dental care provider mentions sleep dentistry, he or she likely means general anesthesia.
You might prefer dental sedation or sleep dentistry, but talk to your dentist about it first. Mention any allergic reactions you’ve experienced in the past, especially to anesthesia, so your dental professional can make safe, educated recommendations.
But since some offices don't offer sedation dentistry and since some parents don't want their children to use sedatives, what can be done?
According to a study by Professor Maha AlSarheed, it was found that many fears manifested themselves in children--but if these kids had positive interactions with their dentist, they didn't carry fears over into adulthood. This information may seem pretty straightforward and obvious, but one might wonder: what constitutes a good dentist interaction? Drbicuspid.com has an interesting study that answers this question. Certain words can be both reassuring to patients and parents:
What Can You Say to Reassure Pediatric Patients?
Practitioners who provide more positive reinforcement and reassurance when speaking with pediatric patients were perceived by caregivers to be more patient-centered and empathetic, according to a new study conducted in Hong Kong.
In addition, the inclusion of caregivers in conversation, such as the clinician mentioning the parent or caregiver present, was a key factor in producing a quality clinical experience, the study authors reported in PLOS One (January 3, 2017).
"Unlike the conversations focusing on the treatment procedures, those offering positive reinforcement and reassurance appeared to the caregivers that the clinicians were providing more patient-centered care and showing more concern to the patients, thereby creating more clinician-patient interaction," wrote Hai Ming Wong, PhD, DDS, and colleagues at the University of Hong Kong. "Engaging patient-centered care can help clinicians build stronger clinician-patient relationships for productive engagement in preventive care."
Dr. Wong is a clinical associate professor of pediatric dentistry at the university. Researchers from disciplines such as dental public health, psychology, and education at the university participated in the study.
Saying 'mommy' is helpful
The authors noted that good communication has been found to result in improved patient cooperation, self-care skills, and treatment plan adherence, as well as better treatment outcomes and a lower likelihood of dental anxiety. However, good communication may not be sufficient to achieve these results, with other active ingredients likely embedded within good communication underpinning those effects, they explained.
If parents and dentists are careful about projecting fears and use reassuring words, then children will be more likely to avoid phobias into adulthood.
However, the study by Maha AlSarheed said that some procedures, like local anesthesia and tooth extraction, seemed to be the top causes for developing fears. If parents can get their children adapted to the dentist's office early before the need for these procedures occurs, then children will be more adaptable to potentially uncomfortable procedures later on. In fact, children should be seeing their dentists as soon as baby teeth erupt!
If worse comes to worse, then sedation dentistry could be considered for children who cannot be soothed by both a parent and dentist. To learn more about preventative dentistry and pediatric dentistry services, check out allin1dental.com/preventive-dentistry/ for more information.
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