The most frequent reason that people avoid the dentist in my experience is that people are worried about being in pain. I would wager that the fear of the pain is actually worse than the pain itself. Dentistry is the only medical profession where almost every surgery is outside of an operating room, as well as the only profession where the same doctor who is doing the surgery is doing the anesthesia. Generally most surgeries have the surgeon, the anesthesia specialist, and then a few nurses to help. With dental procedures, generally I am doing everything with an assistant, and the reason that I can do surgery with just one person helping me is the mouth is far more forgiving than any other part of the body. Even though the mouth heals up better than any other part of the body, a large challenge in dentistry is keeping a person comfortable during and after a procedure. I keep patients comfortable through good local anesthetic followed by both over the counter and prescription medications.
Sedation Dentistry for Your Dental Operation
One of the best things and most common medications that I use are local anesthetics which most people know as the shots. My technique is that I rub a jelly that is similar but much stronger than orajel on the gums and cheeks before I give the injection as that helps deaden the gums and removes the initial uncomfortable pinch. Second I go slow with the first anesthetic which helps get the nerves numb before the nerves feel the sharpness of the needles. Last, after I have given the first injection, I follow up with a second injection with a stronger medication that while stinging more is not felt because it is placed in an area where the tooth is already numb. Unfortunately, one of the most common situations that I see is that someone comes in with a tooth that has been hurting for quite some time. Usually, this person is also scared about getting numb and about the pain. These patients are typically the hardest to numb which is why I recommend laughing gas or nitrous oxide. I find that laughing gas does a good job of taking the edge off and allows the anesthesia to work much better. I also like the laughing gas because a patient does not need to have someone drive them to the appointment and back home. The laughing gas leaves the body within five minutes of being taken off the nose.
Pain medication Used at our Dental Practice
The next most common medication that I use is over the counter pain medication. My personal recommendation is ibuprofen which is also known as Advil. If a patient cannot take Advil per the recommendation of their physician, I will use acetaminophen also known as Tylenol. I like to have all my patients take two pills about ten to twenty minutes before the appointment for two reasons First, it will help with any soreness after treatment as the medicine will be circulating through the body before treatment is done. Second I like it because it can help achieve better anesthesia by blocking certain pain receptors. After a procedure, I will recommend taking Advil and Tylenol alternating every three hours for the remainder of the day as it is effective at keeping soreness to a minimum after a procedure. While many patients may feel like they do not need this medication after a procedure, I am a believer that keeping any soreness or pain under control with safe medications like Advil and Tylenol is better than risking the pain breaking through and becoming more difficult to manage after the fact.
The final medication that I use to keep patients comfortable is prescription pain medication. The biggest concern with most prescription pain medications is that they can be habit forming or addictive. My most often prescribed prescription medication is called etodolac which is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory. It is like a stronger version of Advil. I like it because it is not habit forming but also because it provides twelve hours of relief and can be combined with Tylenol for even better results. For some procedures where I am concerned about a patient having more pain such as removing a tooth, often I will prescribe Norco which is a narcotic. I generally give even narcotics to help a person feel better for two or three days after, but I am always concerned about the possibility of addiction as well as queasiness and nausea which can be common especially to teenagers. If a person is concerned about either of these things, it is not necessary that I give a narcotic medication. However, I would rather a patient have a prescription if I am concerned about it and not use the prescription than need the prescription and not have it. Last but not least, if a patient does get narcotic pain killers and does not use them, then my recommendation is to return the unused medications to the pharmacy for safe and convenient disposal.
Comfortable Dental Operations in New Orleans
One of my biggest goals with all treatment is to keep patients comfortable so that they can have the best experience possible. I know that few patients actually enjoy being in my chair, but I still try hard to make it easy and not scary. Using good techniques, dentistry provides predictable ways to do surgery with minimal discomfort and I find that the easier a procedure is for a patient, the less fear that the person will have about coming to the dentist. If you are afraid of the dentist due to pain or are worried about a dental procedure that you need, call us at 504-392-5104 and we will help you out.