Offering individualized dental care for anxious & phobic patients and patients who have a gagging problem……

Do you have a “built-in” fear of dentisty?  Do you gag or feel like vomiting when the dentist works in your mouth?  These issues are very common but can be managed very successfully under intravenous sedation.

If you are an anxious dental patient or gag during treatment, you’re not alone; these are very common problems that, for many people, appear to get worse as they get older.

Dental anxiety often results from unsympathetic handling of patients by dentists when the patient was a child or after receiving treatment provided by dentists who had little understanding of how a nervous patient feels, and who failed to take the time to explain things clearly to the patient and reassure them.  It is so important to find out what causes the patient’s fear or what particular part of the dental experience upsets them.  This is the reason all our patients receive a consultation at which they have the opportunity to provide their unique dental history to help us offer them the tailored care they need.

For some, dental anxiety means they are nervous of dentistry but can overcome this anxiety by logic and the reassurance of those around them including their dentist and the dental nurse. 

For others it is an all-consuming fear or phobia and the patient has no idea what sets it off and is absolutely unable to control it.  This is a true phobia and has to be managed by using either intravenous sedation in the practice or general anaesthesia as a day case in a day surgery unit. 

For other patients, there are known triggers that heighten their anxiety including the fear of the needle or injections, the smell of the dental surgery, the sound of a dental drill, lying down with someone’s fingers or dental instruments in their mouth, a fear of being unable to breath, claustrophobia, the sound of the suction unit and the fear of waiting for the drill to hit the nerve, which nowadays doesn’t happen with modern local anaesthetics.  And so the list goes on.  It is important to find out what the trigger is and to manage the appointments to minimise the initiating factor that brings on the anxiety or makes it worse.

Nowadays, the anaesthetics we use are so advanced that the nerve is completely numb and there is absolutely no chance of the tooth being painful during treatment.  But, anxiety is hard for some people to overcome even when reassured and many patients avoid dental examination or treatment entirely, choosing to ignore their dental cavities.  This allows the cavities to grow larger, leading to pain and infection.  This results in the need for tooth extraction and even more extensive dental treatment; that of course is the one thing the anxious dental patient needs to avoid.

The types of treatment available…………..

Nearly every aspect of dental care can be provided in our practice by Dr Colin Priestland who has a full day operating list at the Mater Hospital Day Unit every Wednesday, and a full day sedation list every two weeks in the practice.   Treatment is also available in the practice under local anaesthetic alone for those who feel able to manage their anxiety by simply being treated gently and with care and an empathetic approach.

Available treatment includes all aspects of routine dental treatment other than root canal therapy, which is referred to a specialist endodontist here in Townsville.  More specific areas of dentistry including the treatment of gum disease and the provision of oral surgery are also available.

So what can we do to help……………..

At NQ Surgical Dentistry we offer a tailored solution for each and every patient taking into account the cause of each individual’s dental anxiety.  Time is spent taking a detailed medical, dental and anxiety history, not only listening to what people say but how they say it.  We will need to gather a very thorough medical history including details of the medications taken, doses and how often the drugs are taken.  Remember, only 10% of communication is verbal so much of the information about a patient is built on experience and knowledge of interpreting non-verbal communication.

No matter what treatment you require, you will be provided with a very clear understanding of the nature and cause of your particular problem, the options that exist for your treatment and the likely outcomes.  There are always several ways to treat any dental problem and it is only by understanding the patient, their concerns and their specific needs and preferences, that we can provide them with the most suitable care to satisfy their circumstances.  In other words you will be involved in all decisions made about your care and management.

There are 60 different dental information leaflets available in our practice addressing nearly every aspect of general dental, periodontal, implant and oral surgical care, all written in plain non-medical language, to ensure we are able to offer every patient clearly explained and logical information to read after they leave their consultation appointment.   Some of these leaflets can be seen on our website in the patient information area.

The aim of the consultation is to identify the patients problems, their concerns, and any individual expectations.  We can then provide them with clearly explained and written information avoiding professional jargon and complex medical terminology, offer the patient straight forward explanations of their treatment options along with all the pros and cons, and answer all their questions clearly and truthfully.  Everything we discuss is recorded accurately in your clinical notes so we can refer back to it later if we need to.

The verbal information provided is then reinforced with the relevant practice leaflets relating to the patient’s problems and the intended treatment.  These leaflets are greatly appreciated by patients who can take home a record of some of the important points covered during the consultation as many people find it hard to remember the fine detail of what was discussed when they were in the consultation feeling anxious and finding it difficult to concentrate. 

Dental disease can present in many ways and can be associated with several medical conditions that can both influence the dental problem, and be influenced by the dental condition.  This is one of many reasons why we try and obtain a full and detailed medical history and details of all the medications and supplements that are being taken.  There is a separate leaflet that addresses the importance of a complete medical history identifying several medical conditions and how they relate either to the dental disease or to the treatment that may be required.

We also take the view that there is no such think as a stupid question!  So ask away at your consultation.  Fear is often associated with fear of the unknown.  So if it is well explained, it is no longer unknown and therefore it is not to be feared.

If you think we might be able to help you, call us on 07 4725 1656 and talk to any of our team all of whom are well qualified to answer questions and have years of experience on which to draw in giving you some answers.  The rest of the clinical problem and solutions will be dealt with in your new patient consultation.  No referral is necessary, if you feel you need to talk to us, just call and we’ll do the rest.

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