It’s estimated that dental phobia affects around 36% of the population, with 12% admitting they have a severe fear of the dentist. Trying to find remedies for anxiety and pain during dental procedures is something humans have been doing for thousands of years, as we’ll come to discuss later in this blog. In 2022, it’s fantastic to have the magic of IV sedation at our disposal here at our dental practice in Bristol, and it’s one of the things we do best.
Read on to learn about the fascinating early beginnings of sedation, how it can benefit you, and why The Bristol Dental Practice should be your first choice for procedures carried out under IV sedation.
What is IV dental sedation?
Dental sedation, specifically IV (intravenous) sedation, is a type of drug administered directly into the vein using a small needle called a cannula. Once administered, IV sedation works in a matter of seconds and induces a state of deep relaxation, allowing the recipient to receive the dental treatment they require. Sedation can be used for virtually any dental treatment, even for some of the most straightforward, such as fillings.
Why is dental phobia so prevalent?
Dentist Stanley Malamed coined the term ‘’the pain of fear’’ to describe the cyclical rapport between fear and pain, whereby fear of the dentist leads to increased anxiety and vice versa.
For most people who have dental phobia, the fear tends to be rooted in a negative past experience with the dentist. This comes as no real surprise, as dental practices used to be notorious for being fairly unpleasant spaces to spend time in! The loud and unfriendly-looking equipment, clinical and cold environment and less sophisticated technology and procedures are all reasons why many patients did not relish the idea of a trip to the dentist.
Today, it’s an entirely different story. Dental practices have made a conscious effort to create a space that feels warm and friendly while remaining appropriate for delivering medical care.
Sedation: early beginnings
Of course, the earliest examples of attempting to numb and control pain were nowhere near as sophisticated as the solutions available today. Pain-numbing practices are believed to have first been used as far back as 2250BC during Babylonian times. Fast forward to 1000BC, when wine was used to produce insensibility in India.
Progress through the ages
It was not until the late 18th century that developments in pain-numbing techniques really began to advance. Joseph Priestly discovered nitrous oxide in 1772, and Humphry Davy discovered that gas possessed anaesthetic properties when inhaled. This was put into practice by Henry Hill Hickman, who tested nitrous oxide on animals to carry out painless surgery during the early 1800s.
In 1844, Dr Horace Wells, a dentist from New England, publically demonstrated the use of nitrous oxide at a hospital in Massachusetts to staff while performing a tooth extraction. Unfortunately, this was not a successful attempt, with the patient moaning throughout the procedure. A couple of years later, in 1846, William T.G Morton demonstrated the same procedure, but this time it was a success.
Niels. B. Jörgensen: the pioneer of modern IV sedation
Danish practitioner Niels B Jörgensen first used IV sedation to repress a patient’s cough reflex and aid cooperation while treatment was performed. For the first time, it became evident that it was possible to administer the sedative in small increments, according to the patient’s initial reaction to the procedure.
One of Jörgensen’s enduring quotes is:
“Your patient is a human being who has entrusted himself into your care: you are responsible for his wellbeing. The feeling of full responsibility makes you a good dentist.”
This philosophy would set the foundations for how modern dentists comfort and deal with patients scared of treatment. Here at The Bristol Dental Practice, we’re fully behind this idea, and we’re very proud to have exceptionally skilled and experienced sedation dentists working at the practice.
IV sedation as we know it today
Today, intravenous sedation is highly effective. Once administered, it takes around 20 seconds to take full effect and the recovery time is faster than oral sedation. A couple of hours after your procedure, you’ll begin to feel normal in yourself again, without the feeling of ‘’grogginess’’ associated with general anaesthetic.
Other advantages of IV sedation include:
- Many patients have no or very little recollection of their treatment under IV sedation.
- IV sedation has relaxing effects, helping those suffering from fear to feel relaxed and comfortable before undergoing dental treatment.
- It helps to make lengthy procedures pass more quickly.
IV sedation at The Bristol Dental Practice
IV sedation is not available at all dental practices, and clinicians must be qualified to undertake this practice. Here at The Bristol Dental Practice, Principal Dentist Dr Jonathan Cochrane has undertaken a 12-month course at the prestigious Eastman Dental Hospital (UCL) to hone his knowledge and skill in IV sedation.
All of Dr Jonathan’s patients are carefully monitored by dental nurses who hold qualifications and training in conscious sedation. Dr Rob Endicott has also performed this procedure thousands of times for anxious patients. Since retiring from clinical dentistry, he has worked exclusively for The Bristol Dental Practice, supporting dentists as they provide anxiety-free care.
Our 3rd experienced sedation dentist Dr Carelyn Issac has over a decade of sedation experience, she understands the importance of delivering the extra care which patients deserve and often require. An award-winning dentist, Carelyn’s gentle and bespoke approach has allowed her to deliver treatment to even the most nervous of patients, many of which who have not sought dental care for years, often due to fear.
Contact us if you’re scared of the dentist
If you’re looking for a dental practice with highly qualified professionals who will look after your teeth and help you deal with dental phobia, look no further. Get in touch today by phone or email by following this link.
We very much look forward to hearing from new and existing patients alike.