Lansing's Dental Discussion

Posts for: February, 2014

By Holly Scott-Hetchler DDS
February 27, 2014
Category: None
Tags: Untagged

An Introduction to Sedation Dentistry

According to the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation, 30 percent of the population avoids visiting the dentist due to fear.  A condition known as “dental phobia,” this all-too-common fear prevents people from receiving necessary, routine dental care, potentially compromising their oral health. 
The good news is that more and more people are now able to receive necessary dental care thanks to sedation dentistry. Sedation is a process administered by a trained dentist to establish a calm, relaxed state through the use of sedatives, enabling fearful patients to follow through with their dental procedures and maintain better oral health as a result.

Types of Sedation

Sedatives can be administered by a trained dental professional in a variety of ways. These include:
Oral sedatives
Oral sedation is a popular method used to establish relaxation. A sedative pill is taken by the mouth and requires no needles, which makes this method easy to administer.  Oral sedatives create a comfortable, relaxed experience for patients—helping them reach a sleep-like state—while allowing them to maintain a level of consciousness for safety and cooperation. 
Inhalation sedatives
Also known as nitrous oxide sedation, inhalation sedation is one of the most widely used dental sedation techniques. Nitrous oxide is administered through a mask, and as the patient inhales the sedative, it causes a euphoric effect, which calms and relaxes the patient within moments. This method is often considered the safest option for light to mild sedation and short, routine dental procedures. 
IV sedatives
IV (intravenous) sedation is delivered via injection to sedate a fearful patient. It is the most powerful method of conscious sedation for management of more severe levels of dental anxiety or lengthier, extensive dental procedures. The sedatives are administered directly into the bloodstream, producing deep relaxation and pain relief. 
General anesthesia
For lengthy and invasive procedures, such as oral surgeries, general anesthesia may be necessary to provide a deeper level of sedation for the patient.  When a patient is given general anesthesia they are completely unconscious throughout the entire procedure.  Because the patient is unresponsive and requires breathing assistance, a highly trained anesthesiologist or oral surgeon can only administer general anesthesia. 

Are You a Candidate for Sedation?

Not everyone is a suitable candidate for sedation dentistry. People who benefit the most from dental sedatives include those with an intense fear of dental procedures, have severe gag reflex, suffer from physical limitations or have trouble becoming fully numb following the administration of local anesthetics.  If you suffer from severe dental anxiety, don’t put off required dental care any longer. Talk to your [location] dentist about safe, comfortable and relaxing sedation dentistry.

By Holly Scott-Hetchler DDS
February 21, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   saliva  

When you think of saliva, the word “amazing” probably doesn’t come to mind. But your life and health would be vastly different without this “wonder” fluid at work in your mouth.

Saliva originates from a number of glands located throughout the mouth. The largest are a pair known as the parotids, located just under the ears on either side of the lower jaw, which produce a thin and watery liquid. The sublingual glands under the tongue produce thicker saliva with a mucous secretion; the saliva from the submandibular glands located under the lower jaw has a consistency somewhere between that of the parotids and the sublingual glands. All these different consistencies of saliva combine to produce a fluid rich in proteins, enzymes, minerals and antibodies.

Saliva performs at least five basic functions in the mouth. First, it washes away food particles after eating and reduces the amount of sugar available for decay-causing bacteria to consume. It protects and disinfects the mouth with antibodies, proteins and enzymes that fight against and help prevent the growth of bacteria. Saliva neutralizes high acidity levels in the mouth, necessary to prevent enamel erosion from acid; and when enamel has softened due to acidity (de-mineralization), the calcium and other minerals in saliva help restore some of the enamel’s lost minerals (re-mineralization). Saliva also aids in digestion by lubricating the mouth and helping the body break down starches in food with its enzymes.

In recent years, scientists have also gained insight into another property of saliva that promises better disease diagnosis in the future. Like blood and urine, saliva contains biological markers for disease. As more diagnostic machines calibrated to these specific markers are developed and used, it could signal a more effective way to identify conditions from saliva samples that are easier to collect than other bodily fluids.

Its less than glamorous image aside, your mouth would be quite a different (and unhealthy) place without saliva. And, developments in diagnostics could make this unsung fluid even more valuable in maintaining your health.

If you would like more information on the importance of saliva to oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Secrets of Saliva.”

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