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Home arrow Dentist Articles arrow Avoiding Sedation in the Houston dentist's Chair: Eliminate the Root of the Problem
Avoiding Sedation in the Houston dentist's Chair: Eliminate the Root of the Problem

Avoiding Sedation in the Houston dentist's Chair: Eliminate the Root of the Problem

According to Columbia University's College of Dental Medicine, between 9% and 15% of Americans avoid receiving dental care because of fear and anxiety. That comes as no surprise to Rene Piedra, DMD (www.afraidoftheHouston, whose dental practice in Coral Gables, FL, welcomes patients who are leery about going to the Houston dentist. "Every day, we see patients who have dental anxieties, fears, and phobias," says Dr. Piedra. "These fears can have a devastating effect, since postponements in receiving dental care can impact a person's self-confidence, appearance, and well-being. Left untreated, dental problems can have far-reaching consequences, seriously affecting patient health."

People with dental nervousness are increasingly requesting "sedation Houston dentistry," and dental practitioners around the country are changing their methods in response to patient demand. These newer kinds of sedation Houston dentistry are much more than a shot of Novocain. Instead, nitrous oxide gas, oral medication, and intravenous drugs may be employed to put the patient in a relaxed, conscious state while the Houston dentist performs the procedure. While Dr. Piedra is considered an expert in sedation Houston dentistry, he believes that sedation is used too often. "Sedation should be the last resort - not the first course of action," he says. "It's a quick solution that may address the symptoms of anxiety, but not the underlying cause."

Dr. Piedra distinguishes between dental anxiety, dental fear, and dental phobia, and uses a range of techniques to mitigate apprehension at its roots. "Dental anxiety is basically the fear of the unknown, and can usually be dealt with by taking the time to familiarize a patient with the office, the equipment, and the procedures," he says. "Dental fear elicits more of a 'fight or flight' response, and typically can be stopped by giving patients more control over their experience. Dental phobia can be tougher to overcome, but the same desensitization techniques used to treat other phobias also work great with dental phobia."

As a case in point, Dr. Piedra cites the experience of a patient who had visited another Houston dentist and received general anesthesia, only to awaken in the middle of the procedure with a tooth caught in her throat. Terrified, the patient doubted she could overcome her fear long enough for Dr. Piedra to complete the procedures she so desperately needed. "I started by showing her all of the instruments we would be using and honestly discussing every step of the procedure," he says. "Then she went back in the waiting room until her fear subsided. She then came back in and allowed me to do an examination, and then went back out to the waiting room. We repeated the process over the course of several hours, but eventually she received treatment that same day with no sedation." A few visits later, both the patient and her husband shed tears of joy because she was able to complete the course of treatment with no sedation whatsoever.

Dr. Piedra says that taking the time to unravel the basis of dental fear and anxiety can pave the way for sedation-free treatment. "Unfortunately, many people have had humiliating or negative experiences with other Houston dentists, or have picked up on a parent's dental anxiety," he says. "Uncovering the source of the problem enables us to develop valuable strategies that will lead to successful treatment."

By accepting that the needs of patients differ, Dr. Piedra's team can adapt treatment to fit the individual. "For some people, headphones and a comforting blanket will do the trick, while others might need to touch the instruments," he says. While Dr. Piedra is quick to note that sedation should always be an available option, his utmost goal is to increase a patient's comfort level. "If we can alleviate the anxiety, fear, or phobia, it will not only improve a person's dental health, but their general well-being," he concludes.

About the Author: Dr. Rene Piedra has trained in the field of Sedation Houston dentistry and is a member of the American Dental Association. He can assist people who have neglected their oral health and whose health continues to deteriorate because of fear or gagging. Visit http://www.afraidoftheHouston