Sedate yourself at the dentist

February 6, 2009 2:39:23 PM PST
A Wake County dentist is one of the first in the Triangle to use IV sedation for patients with dental anxiety.An estimated 40 million Americans suffer from some form of dental phobia.

For Jake St. Peter, his fear is needles.

"It's anytime it has to go anywhere around my gums or my mouth that I just start sweating," St. Peter explained. "I start getting a little panicked."

It's estimated up to 15 percent of Americans feel the same with some sort of dental anxiety, but St. Peter's last visit for crown and fillings was different.

"I remember coming in, sitting in the chair with a warm blanket and I remember going to sleep," St. Peter said.

While he felt he was asleep, St. Peter was actually awake -- under conscious sedation administered through an IV. It's a service Dr. Robert Stanley just started offering his patients.

"The difference between IV sedation and a general dental office, like this and general sedation which is done in a hospital, is the patient controls their airway," Dr. Stanley said. "One of the drugs we administer, typically administer, is an amnesic so it relaxes the patient and it also has the ability to create amnesia."

IV sedation is actually something oral surgeons have been practicing for quite some time, but there are few general dentists who do it.

Stanley Dentistry in Cary is the first dental practices in the Triangle to offer an IV.

"With direct IV access, you have total control over the action of the drug and we have reversal agents for any drug we use," Dr. Stanley said.

IV sedation eased St. Peter's fears at the dentist and it could help give others, who are afraid, something to smile about.


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