The June issue of DH&T focuses on how best to handle fear in the dental chair. Here, a look at how one dentist approaches dental phobics
Many of us would rather be doing something else than visiting the dentist. Let’s be honest, even with the massive improvements that many dental practices have made over recent years in terms of customer service, surgery design and the latest technology, there are better places to be. However, for some, the fear of dentistry can be very powerful and prevent the person even attending the dentist at all. This can have a hugely detrimental effect on their oral and overall health. Perhaps you are unaware, but regular attendance at the dentist isn’t just about a quick scrape – they check for oral cancer and a myriad of other issues. Not to mention what that smile could look like…
We spoke to two brave souls who wanted to share their stories about how they overcame their fears.
Jackie had been afraid of the dentist for as long as she could remember. She hadn’t been to any dentist for the previous five or six years but it had got to the point that her teeth were embarrassing her. She Googled ‘conscious sedation’ as this was a treatment that her niece had had years previously. 2 or 3 names came up in the Suffolk area and she telephoned them and explained her problem.
‘Olive Dental Care put me at my ease straight away,’ explains Jackie. ‘They invited me to the practice, not for an appointment but just to have a look around and make sure that this was the practice and team for me. We spoke about the sedation and I felt comfortable enough to book a consultation.’
The consultation was actually quite calm from Jackie’s perspective, although her lack of attendance did mean that there was quite a lot of work that needed to be done.
‘I don’t have pots of money,’ comments Jackie, ‘but they were more than happy for me to have the work carried out in the order of importance as my budget allowed.’
The next appointment was a little more daunting for Jackie as she knew that actual, real treatment would be taking place. ‘I was nervous but do you know what? I cannot remember a thing about the experience! I went to sleep in the chair and I woke up in the chair! It was wonderful.’
Jackie has had two more sedation visits since then and is now a regular attendee.
‘Shebin the dentist (Dr Koshy) is great and really does make the patient feel comfortable. And the sedation is a doddle! The anaesthetist (Biju Philip) simply puts a small needle in the back of my hand and that’s it, job done. I really can recommend sedation to anyone who is concerned about visiting the dentist.’
‘I have a terrible gagging reflex. It’s a big problem – even to the extent that I struggle to clean my back teeth properly.’ Michael has suffered with this all of his adult life – although it has got worse since a bad experience with the fitting of a bridge when he was 40 (he is now 66).
‘For me, it isn’t a case of being frightened of going to the dentist,’ remarks Michael. “It is the fact that it so uncomfortable for both myself and the dentist!”
Since that experience, Michael has attended less and less. Then, the aforementioned bridge broke. ‘One of the teeth that the bridge was attached to, broke and another one erupted,” said Michael. “It left a massive gap and before long I realised that I would have to galvanise myself into doing something about it!”
‘My “regular” dentist had since retired but thought that I should seek out a dentist who offered sedation. I looked on Google and discovered Olive Dental Care. I rang and made an appointment.’
Michael arrived at the practice and felt that it was a tranquil and calm atmosphere – not like where he had been before at all. ‘I met with Dr Koshy (dentist) and Dr Philip (anaesthetist) and they described the treatment plan in detail and made sure that I was comfortable with all the procedures.’
‘I would not hesitate in recommending sedation to anyone who has had any concerns or issues visiting a dentist in the past. There is a cost associated to it but it got me over a big problem and made the whole experience relaxing and pleasant.’
Dr Biju Philip is the anaesthetist who carries out the sedation at Olive Dental Care (he also works at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds).
‘A 1988 study showed that 60% of the UK population were to some extent fearful of dental treatment. For so many reasons people can be concerned, scared and afraid of visiting the dentist. I see it as my mission in life to help these people visit the dentist and look after their oral health without undue concern,’ explains Biju.
‘Conscious sedation is a way of ensuring that a patient is calm and in a trance-like state for the course of the treatment and yet can leave the practice 15 minutes later! As an anaesthetist, I am qualified to use medicines that dentists are not. This means that patients often have much quicker recovery time and are fully awake only minutes after treatment. I can allow the dentist to get on with the dentistry meaning that we can both concentrate on our specialties.’
If you would like to know more about conscious sedation visit http://www.olivedentalcare.co.uk/dental-sedation/ If you would like to find out more about Biju and the treatment that he offers, call 01638 577031 or email [email protected]
Biju Philip is a medical doctor with more than 20 years experience, of which 13 years has been in the field of Anaesthetics and Critical Care. He has also undergone extensive training in Dental Sedation and Facial Aesthetics. He works as an Anaesthetist at West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds and is a member of the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCOA), Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (AAGBI) and Society for Advancement of Anaesthesia in Dentistry (SAAD). Dr Philip has a special interest in using botulinum toxin as a mode of treatment for migraine, recurrent tempro-mandibular joint dislocation as a result of grinding teeth at night and jaw muscle relaxation to treat stress related grinding and clenching of teeth at night.