Is Oral Sedation Right for You?

Here at FDA, we offer oral conscious sedation for patients who need help being comfortable and relaxed during dental procedures.  With oral conscious sedation, a patient takes a pill an hour before coming in for an appointment and needs a companion to escort them to and from the appointment.  When the patient arrives, they are drowsy and relaxed. Our experienced dental team can often perform several procedures while the patient relaxes. However, not everyone is eligible to receive oral sedation. Here is what Dr. Brunacini has to say about the sedation process and who can become a sedation patient:

1.  Why does FDA offer oral sedation as opposed to other relaxation options such as nitrous oxide gas or IV sedation?

Dr. Brunacini:  Oral conscious sedation can be beneficial for the patient who has significant dental anxiety.  It provides amnesia so that the patient doesn’t remember the procedure. Because the patient is more relaxed, typically their healing time is improved too.  Nitrous oxide gas does a good job of reducing anxiety, but the patient will still remember their time in the dental chair. We have had great results for our patients using oral conscious sedation!

2.  Who do you recommend oral sedation for?  

Dr. Brunacini:  Patients that have mild to moderate dental anxiety are good candidates for sedation, as well as patients that have a difficult time getting numb. Sedation dentistry can also be a good option for patients who haven’t been to a dentist for a long time and have a lot of work to be completed…typically we can provide more dental treatment in fewer visits while a patient is under sedation.  It’s a win-win!

3.  What is the process for becoming a sedation patient?

Dr. Brunacini:  First, we schedule a comprehensive dental exam in order to determine the patient’s needs.  During that appointment, we have an in-depth conversation with the patient about their dental needs and how we can complete the treatment.  If oral sedation seems like a good fit for the patient, we will schedule a separate baseline appointment to discuss the details of the sedation protocol as well collect vital signs for monitoring purposes.  After the baseline appointment, the patient is scheduled for their dental treatment accordingly.

4.  Please describe what a typical sedation appointment is like.

Dr. Brunacini: The patient will take valium the night before prior to going to sleep; the valium reduces anxiety so that they can get a restful night of sleep.  In the morning, the patient will take a pill one hour prior to the appointment. This medication is called triazolam and it will begin the sedation process for the treatment.  The patient will need a driver to take them to their appointment. Once they arrive at the office, they are connected to our vital signs monitoring system. I will then evaluate the sedation level of the patient and can give more medication to achieve the satisfactory sedation level that the patient requires to perform dental treatment. Once the dental treatment is completed, the patient is sat up and given a sugary beverage to begin waking them up from the sedation.  When the patient is awake enough, their driver will be allowed into the room to discuss the dental treatment performed and how to care for the patient afterwards. They are then escorted to their vehicle to go home.

5.  If I become a sedation patient, does that mean I will always have to be sedated for all my dental appointments?

Dr. Brunacini:  There are certainly those patients that will always require some level of sedation in order to complete their dental treatment.  It is the goal; however, to eliminate the need for sedation procedures for any patient. Sometimes it does happen where the patient feels comfortable enough to forgo future sedation procedures for dental work.  We are here to support our patients in this process and work to build relationships with our patients based on trust and a commitment to care!

 

If you’re interested learning more about oral sedation for your next dental visit, call us at 207-781-5900 to schedule your baseline appointment today!

Frankie Says Relax… at the Dentist!

It’s common to feel overwhelmed by going to the dentist. Here at Falmouth Dental Arts, we strive to make your appointments with us as easy and comfortable as possible. Here are some techniques we’ve found to be helpful for many patients:


Communication

If you experience fear or anxiety before or during your dental appointment, tell us!  We care about the well-being of our patients and want to help our patients feel comfortable.  Patients tell us that talking through their fears and learning the step-by-step of a procedure can help alleviate anxiety.  We are always happy to take the time to answer questions and to listen to you.

Talking to your family and friends can help, too.  People may have tips and suggestions for what helps keep them calm and relaxed for dental procedures.  

Distraction

Directing your mind toward something more pleasant often helps reduce anxiety.  Many patients find it helpful to bring headphones to a dental appointment so they can listen to music, a book-on-tape, or even a guided meditation.  Find something that puts you at ease and bring it to your next appointment! If you forget your headphones or music, we’ve got you covered!

Focus on Breathing

The technique of breathing deeply and slowly can be quite effective and is central in meditation and yoga.  By focusing on your breath, you are giving your body more oxygen and helping your nervous system calm down. Practice deep breathing at home and as you come to your appointment.  Our clinical team can help remind you to keep taking deep breaths during your appointment as well. We are here to help!

For some people, overcoming their anxiety remains a hurdle to receiving dental care.  If the above relaxation techniques don’t calm your fear, we also offer oral conscious sedation. Dr. Brunacini will discuss the oral conscious sedation process further in our next article.  

As always, we are here to help you get the best dental care possible.  If you have any questions or concerns about an upcoming appointment, please give us a call at 207.781.5900.

 

*Image courtesy of www.certifiedmexdentist.blogspot.com

Are Tooth Banks the Future?

Perhaps the Tooth Fairy should start looking for a new job! Researchers have had success in locating stem cells in dental tissue and in regenerating new dental tissue. Dental stem cells have the potential to grow not just teeth, but also show promise in the repair of bone tissues and optic neurons. In fact, there are now companies that will extract stem cells from wisdom and baby teeth and store them for you until needed, a process similar to cord-blood banking. This is an exciting discovery with enormous potential, but is it worth the expense to invest your child’s teeth now? We decided to look in to this further.

What’s so Special About a Stem Cell?

Stem cells have the remarkable potential to grow into many different types of cells as well as aid the body’s internal repair system. For example, a stem cell can become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell or a brain cell. Stem cells have been found in bone marrow and in umbilical cord blood, and in 2003 were also found in teeth.

Scientists at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research noticed that when a tooth gets a cavity, it also produces something called reparative dentin to protect itself. This led researchers to hypothesize that stem cells were within teeth activating the dentin when needed. Having the ability to create dentin could allow a dentist to grow replacement teeth as needed, rather than rely on implants or bridges. Even more potential lies in the stem cells that have been found in baby teeth, known as SHED (stem cells from human exfoliated deciduous teeth). SHED cells also seem to be able to make something similar to bone.

Enter tooth banks, which promise to safely extract the SHED cells from your child’s baby teeth and store them for later use.

How do Tooth Banks Work?

Extracting SHED cells from baby teeth is a process that involves the cooperation and expertise of your dentist. Rather than wait for a child’s loose baby tooth to fall out, it’s best to extract the tooth when there’s about one-third of the root remaining to ensure there are viable stem cells. According to the former American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) President Dr. Jade Miller, “It really requires some planning, and so parents need to make this decision early on and be prepared and speak with their pediatric dentist about that.” Tooth banks offer a dental kit for the dentist with all the necessary components to collect the SHED cells.

From there, the tooth bank extracts the stem cells from the dental pulp inside the tooth, and then processes and tests the cells before they are cryogenically preserved.

What do the Experts Say?

Currently, the scientific community is divided as to whether or not storing teeth is worthwhile. The AAPD released an official statement saying it “recognizes that harvested dental stem cells is an emerging science which may have application for oral health care but at present there are no treatments available using harvested dental stem cells from a tooth or follicle. As the technology continues to evolve, the process of procurement of dental stems should be accomplished only with deliberate integrity and appropriate informed consent to assure the highest ethical standards and quality of outcomes.”

Meanwhile the AAPD’s former president, Dr. Miller has decided, as a grandparent, to use a tooth bank. “It’s really in its infancy, much of this research. There’s a very strong chance there’s going to be utilization for these stem cells, and they could be life-saving. There’s going to be a significant application and I want to give my grandkids the opportunity to have those options.”

Says Dr. Brunacini: “Stems cells are exciting in their potential to help a lot of people with multiple ailments, including missing teeth. Here at FDA, we are excited to see how the technology progresses to hopefully provide an all-natural approach to replacing missing teeth.”

If you would like to learn more about Tooth Banks or the potential of dental stem cells, we are here to answer your questions!

 

 

*Image courtesy of www.toothbank.com

Lost a Tooth? Don’t Call the Tooth Fairy Yet!

Losing a tooth is an exciting rite-of-passage when you are young, but as an adult it is a cause for concern.  It is also common: most adults will lose teeth to decay, gum disease or injury. Losing teeth not only affects your smile but also impacts your bite and your jawbone. Fortunately, there are options!  Here at Falmouth Dental Arts, we can address tooth loss with a dental implant or with bridges. We aim to make every process as comfortable and safe as possible, and we will help you to determine which choice is right for you.  Here is some more general information about these two options.

Implants

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends implants as the standard replacement for missing teeth.  Implants look and feel like natural teeth and are designed to last a lifetime. However, you do need a healthy jawbone and soft tissue to be a candidate for dental implants.

If an implant is right for you, the first step is to place a titanium implant in your jaw.  The implant replaces your tooth root and will naturally fuse to your jawbone over the course of several weeks.  Once that is firmly in place, a titanium post will be added to serve as an anchor for a crown.

Bridges

A bridge is a good option for replacing a few teeth.  It involves fusing artificial teeth to a metal frame. The frame is then cemented to supports, which are either implants or healthy teeth covered with crowns.  There are limits, however, to how many teeth a bridge can replace. Generally, a bridge is a less-invasive procedure but does not last as long as an implant. The average life of a bridge is 10 years.

The Future

There is also an exciting third option on the horizon!  Researchers have found a way to grow teeth from dental tissue stem cells.  We will delve in to this possibility in our next blog post…stay tuned!

As always, the best way to prevent tooth loss is to practice good oral hygiene and visit your dentist regularly.  However, tooth loss happens. If you have lost a tooth or have concerns about your teeth, please give us a call at 207.781.5900.  We are happy to discuss your options as we truly believe that having healthy teeth is an integral part of comprehensive health care.  

 

 

*Image courtesy of www.health.harvard.edu

Oil Pulling: Health Craze or Healthy Practice?

In recent years, oil pulling has gained a lot of attention as a natural alternative to traditional oral hygiene.  Proponents claim that it will whiten teeth, reduce inflammation, and help cure gingivitis. As with our exploration of activated charcoal last month, we support natural and holistic approaches to oral hygiene, so we decided to give this practice a closer look.

What is Oil Pulling?

Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that involves swishing a tablespoon of oil (usually coconut or sesame) in your mouth for 20 minutes every morning.  Afterwards, one spits out the oil as one would mouthwash.

Does it Work?

While there are few scientific studies on the efficacy of oil pulling, swishing with oil for twenty minutes a day will certainly do no harm.

“Oil pulling is a good adjunct to regular brushing and flossing to reduce staining on the teeth. We have had a number of patients that have benefitted from adding oil pulling to their home care routine,” says Dr. Brunacini.

Bottom Line

Oil pulling is a practice worth exploring if you are interested in trying something other than mouthwash.  However, it should not be a replacement for your regular oral hygiene practices.  The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that to maintain good dental health you should brush twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste, floss between your teeth once a day, and abstain from using tobacco products.

If you find yourself exploring options for teeth whitening or have questions about your oral health care regimen, please give us a call at 207.781.5900 and we’ll be happy to arrange an appointment!