Sedation dentistry

Tooth Ache Leads to Death

It began with a painful toothache.  But Mark Erdman was not one to slow down, so he didn't.  The 49-year-old Palm City resident kept working, kept hitting the gym every morning at 5.  Without health insurance, he delayed going to the dentist for as long as he could. Over-the-counter acetaminophen and ibuprofen helped him endure the pain.   The Tylenol and ibuprofen he had been taking for his toothache contributed to fatal damage to his liver and kidneys; Renee, his wife said doctors told her. At one point, he took eight over-the counter pills in a single day. He knew it was more than the recommended dose, but he never expected it to take his life.  Mark died Thursday at Florida Hospital in Orlando, where he had been transferred with hopes of receiving a liver transplant.

Acetaminophen, (Tylenol) can cause serious, sometimes fatal, liver damage if taken in higher-than-recommended doses, according to a consumer update from the Food and Drug Administration. Even at the recommended dose, people who have three or more drinks a day are at greater risk of liver damage, the FDA warns.  Acetaminophen is the #1 cause of liver transplants, not alcohol, and not hepatitis.

Mark's excuse for delaying his visit to the dentist was money, but it could have been fear.  So many people put off going to the dentist because of fear.  This fear can be paralyzing, but we can help.  We emphasize and focus on helping people who cannot make that initial phone call.  If you or anyone you know has this condition, please let us know.  We can help!!  Who knows, it may save your life.!!

Mark D. Erdman

Mark D. Erdman

Do It Yourself Dentists

I did an interview yesterday with Alex Villareal for KBTX television.   It seems that they were doing a story on "Do It Yourself Dentists".  The focus of the story was that there are people out there that are doing their own dentistry.  The implication was that people were trying to save money by not going to the dentist. There are many stories on the Internet with people talking about taking care of their dental problems themselves.  They are using nail files, super glue, pliers and even drills on their teeth.  Now, we have been known to advise our own patients to use nail files on broken teeth (to smooth a sharp edge), or even super glue to glue something in temporarily until they could get into our office.  The key word here is "temporarily".  However, the thought of someone using a drill on their own teeth really scares me.  One slip and you could cut lips, tongue, cheek, etc. 

My response in the story was that when people put off their dental problems, it will come back to haunt them.  The longer you wait to address your problems, the more it will cost and the less predictable the results will be.  KBTX did a good job of reporting the story and I felt proud to be a part of it.

After I watched the piece on KBTX, I wondered if the fear of going to the dentist had any role in people doing their on dentistry?  It is hard for me to imagine people doing some of the things that you read about on line; but then,  there a lot of people who are petrified about going to the dentist.  This is something that we really empathise with.  We know that this fear is real and focus on helping these phobic people.

Afraid of Going To the Dentist?

We had the most wonderful patient call us recently, who had a most common of concerns - he was afraid of going to the dentist.  What made the call so unique is that it is so very hard to do for those gripped by fear. You would think that fear of dentistry would be rare.  But it is not.  And you wouldn’t know, because it is not discussed out of embarrassment.  This is a serious issue.  Fear grips people in ways that most people simply cannot understand.  It is so compelling, so overriding in their lives, that over time is begins to bring a whole host of problems along for the ride.  Each one compounding on the other until there comes the breaking point.  

 Most of these patients keep this to themselves, bottled up from the world.  As the years go by, they have learned to live with pain, bad breath, discoloration, cavities, missing teeth and sometimes, social isolation.   Soon these problems start expressing themselves in other ways too.  A missed promotion, avoiding an important family event or compromising a relationship with somebody they love.  

Most stopped smiling long ago, or they have learned to cover their smile.  Almost all learn to speak without showing their teeth.   Like a pressure cooker these problems build to a point where they have to do something.  They can’t wait any longer and need to get dental help, but still can’t get past the fear.  It is literally a living nightmare that won’t go away.

We have helped many patients conquer these fears, get their dental health back in order and most importantly have seen them get their life back.  It is the most emotionally rewarding part of our practice.  We make sure from their first call they realize they’ve finally found the answer and we go out of our way to ensure they will never be embarrassed. You can almost here their hesitancy finally drain away as we reassure them.  As a team, we bring them an assurance that they’ll experience compassion, skill and a wonderful new advance called sedation dentistry that allows them to get their teeth repaired while experiencing no pain and having no distinct memory of the procedure.

 Many patients say making that first phone call was the hardest part.  Sometimes even hanging up several times before they had the courage to talk.  But once they connected, once they made the leap, we hear time and time again that it was the best decision of their life.

 To learn more about sedation dentistry go here on our website.  There is also a wonderful video where one of our patients named Chad tells his compelling story about how he overcame his lifelong fear of dentistry with our help.  But be forewarned, you’ll need to keep a tissue handy.

Are you Sleepy ?

Aren't they cute when they sleep? Conscious sedation, that sounds funny, but that is what it is.  It allows you to be sleepy and still respond to direction.  A person will usually go to sleep while being treated.  How great it is to have work done without the stress!  Sometimes people will choose sedation because the time in the office may be a few hours and that sure makes the time go by!  How wonderful to go home after your visit, take a nap and not remember being here!  I always find it funny when someone returns for a second conscious sedation time and they always say:  "I don't remember you doing this last time".   That's because you don't. So sleep well, you are taken care of.

Oral Sedation Dentistry

  Millions of people are so afraid to go to the dentist that they literally don't go until it has gotten really bad.  Unfortunately, they don't realize that they are not alone, as people are very reluctant to share this phobia, even with their friends.  They think that they alone have this problem and are embarrassed about it.

We try to validate this situation, be understanding and non-judgemental with these people.  We also offer them drugs!!  In our office we use a little blue pill (not that one) to help people relax and "forget" about the treatment they are about to undergo.  Most people report that they do not even remember being in the office for their procedure.  The risk is minimal and we are all trained and licensed for any unexpected events. 

We also encourage people undergoing major treatment, (multiple teeth and several hour appointments) to use oral sedation to help make the long visit easier.  Most people take the medication 1 hour before the appointment and need someone to drive them to and from the office.  This is very common in our office as we are always doing major cases, but we got a great big laugh when Wimberly showed up in our office this week for her appointment wearing the following sign:

 When we showed Wimberly the photos, she told us that she did not remember making the signs.  All kidding aside, oral sedation is a great adjunct to today's dentistry for any one apprehensive about their dental work or facing long appointments.