by Dr. Julie Melbinger-Wagner
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE MEQUON BEACON
At Mequon Smile Design, we treat patients of all ages and provide general dentistry services which can satisfy most everyone’s dental wants and needs… Because everyone deserves to smile. Whether you are looking to receive routine preventive dental treatment, fillings, crowns, implants, whitening or cosmetic veneers, Mequon Smile Design strives to provide these services in an amazing new, state-of-the art office with the best customer service. However, for some, the thought of going to the dentist invokes fear and anxiety that even amazing amenities will not resolve. Over 35 million people in the United States avoid the dental office because of fear and dental phobia, which leads to significant dental problems that may have been prevented. Managing a patient’s anxiety and fear provides a favorable experience for the clinician, dental team and patient, which is why we choose to offer to our patients nitrous oxide sedation as an adjunct to their treatment.
In 1798, an Englishmen interested in the field of medicine, Humphrey Davy, ignored all warnings to claim that nitrous oxide was allegedly etiologic to many disease and deadly conditions and became the first to inhale the pure gas. Davy reported a favorable experience during all his experiments, reporting that he felt like “laughing” and “the highest degree of pleasure.” Davy also once reported diminished toothache pain following the use to nitrous oxide, which supported his theory on the anesthetic properties of the gas. In 1844, Drs.’ Gardner and Horace Wells decided to take these findings publicly. On stage, in the presence of colleagues, Gardner and Horace performed a dental extraction with nitrous oxide to prove the gases amnestic and analgesic properties. It was after this historic event that dentistry would be the primary health discipline to continue to use nitrous oxide for many procedures.
The popularity of nitrous oxide use has waxed and waned over the years; however, one thing is constant, it has remained in continuous use longer than any other drug and has stood the test of time. The desirable characteristics of nitrous oxide are what has drawn the dental practitioner to is everyday use; analgesia, relative amnestic, rapid onset of action, titration is possible, rapid cognitive recovery, and minimal side effects. Most importantly this gas is an anxiolytic and allows patients the mental ability to cope with most dental experiences. Fear and anxiety affects an individual’s ability to tolerate pain; painful stimuli can be exaggerated in an anxious patient. The anxiolytic/sedative properties of the gas enable a patient to become calm, relaxed and able to tolerate the situation with no difficulty.
Fear and anxiety in dentistry is very real and its prevalence has not changed over the years. In fact, with the increase in societal generalized anxiety, it has actually increased. Nitrous oxide is still and always will be the most safe, effective drug to allow for any patient with dental anxiety a reason to return to the dentist and keep their smile happy and health. Should you want any further information on services we provide or nitrous oxide and sedation please feel free to contact us!