Anxiety-Free Dentistry

Dental treatment available with oral or intravenous sedation.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Sedation dentistry has
kept a smile on Sharon’s face.

Of the one in five people who are estimated to harbor a fear of dentists, most do so out of concern their experience will be a painful one. Not Sharon Head. Her longstanding fear of dentists stems from an even less common anxiety disorder: claustrophobia.

For as long as she can remember, the act of a dentist hovering over her and pulling his work lamp down near her face has triggered a sense of confinement and dread so great that she would do almost anything to wriggle out of it.

“I think it started when I was a child and my mom used to wash my hair in the bathroom sink,” Sharon, 71, reveals. “I used to scream when she did that, and ever since then, I could never stand to be cornered in small areas.

“They’re not around anymore, but one thing I could never do was make a phone call from a phone booth. And I’ve always been very nervous in elevators. I got stuck in one that broke down once and had a breakdown. When it got fixed, I had to be carted out on a gurney.

“It’s a tough thing to deal with, and with dentists, it’s obviously hard for them to work on me because I can’t stand for them to get too close to my face. I get upset and anxious, so I’ve always needed some sort of sedation – a pill or whatever – to get through it.”

A one-time airline gate agent who later worked in child support services, Sharon had a dentist who accommodated her needs while she lived in Baltimore, Maryland for three decades, but her move to Florida three years ago sparked a new search for such a dentist.

That search eventually led her to Jayraj J. Patel, DMD, at Palm Coast Family Dentistry in Palm Coast, where Dr. Patel specializes in restorative and implant dentistry and offers oral and intravenous sedation for patients who need it such as Sharon.

Sit Back and Relax

“What we provide is what we call sedation dentistry,” Dr. Patel informs. “I don’t like to call it sleep dentistry because we don’t actually put the patient to sleep. They’re put into a zone of sedation where some may feel like they’re sleeping, but they’re not.

“And the types of sedation we offer are either oral sedation, where the patient is given a sedative tablet, or intravenous sedation, also referred to as IV sedation, where different medications are injected through a continuous IV drip.”

Dr. Patel points out that he does not offer nitrous oxide sedation, which is a combination of oxygen and nitrous oxide that is commonly referred to as laughing gas and is administered through a mask placed over the patient’s nose.

He further notes that oral sedation is available for patients who are undergoing noninvasive procedures such as routine exams, x-rays and cleanings, whereas IV sedation is offered to patients undergoing more intense dental work.

He’s the perfect dentist for people who fear dentists.” – Sharon

“For anything invasive, such as periodontal therapy, crown placement or replacement, root canals, extractions or any kind of surgery, including implant surgery, IV sedation is the way to go,” Dr. Patel confirms.

“IV sedation has a much quicker onset because you’re injecting something directly into your bloodstream, whereas oral sedation has a slow onset. The effects of oral sedation are not felt instantly, but it has all the technicalities of doing what we need it to do.”

Sharon first visited Palm Coast Family Dentistry a couple years ago and treated it as a trial run designed to get a feel for Dr. Patel’s demeanor and how he would sedate her for a routine exam. She came away pleased with every facet of her visit.

“He gave me a pill just to relax me, so I wasn’t asleep, but it worked well,” Sharon says. “I was able to get through the visit without any problems, and as far as Dr. Patel goes, I really liked the interaction with him.

“His personality is magnificent, and he’s so gentle and relaxing. If I move or become even a little bit fearful, he stops and says, Okay, let’s wait for a moment. He’s the perfect dentist for people who fear dentists.”

A Hollywood Smile

Encouraged by her initial experience with Dr. Patel, Sharon returned shortly thereafter to Palm Coast Family Dentistry to have further work done. And with “a mouthful of crowns and caps,” as she puts it, Sharon needed a lot of work.

“My mouth is actually in excellent shape for someone of my age, especially when you consider that some of my crowns are forty-five years old,” she says. “But what I have now that Dr. Patel has repaired everything is a Hollywood smile.”

Dr. Patel’s contribution to that smile included an initial cleaning as well as some crown replacement work and a new bridge. With one small exception, all of that work was done under IV sedation, and Dr. Patel was able to complete most of the work in one visit.

“We were actually able to do one crown for her under oral sedation back in January,” Dr. Patel reports. “Then in February, we did the rest of the crown work and the bridge work, so that all she had to do after that was come back for the fitting of the new bridge.”

The bridge Sharon received was made by an outside lab, but her crowns were made right in Dr. Patel’s office using a special computer that allows the dentist to take a digital impression and fabricate crowns from it in a matter of minutes.

Dr. Patel also performed root canals on the two teeth that supported Sharon’s bridge, which she received a week after all the other work was done. The bridge fitting is a simple process that Sharon was able to get through without sedation.

“That’s a very short and easy appointment,” Dr. Patel explains. “And because we do all the work for it digitally, the bridge comes back just as we want it, so we don’t need to make any adjustments. We just pop the old one out and put the new one in.”

With oral and IV sedation helping to relax her, Sharon says all of her appointments with Dr. Patel have been short and easy. She adds that she is so pleased with Dr. Patel’s work and demeanor that she encouraged her husband to visit him as well.

“He was going somewhere else, but he’s much happier with Dr. Patel,” Sharon says. “Dr. Patel does excellent work, and I recommend him to everybody I talk to. I absolutely love him and his staff to death. They’re all wonderful.”

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    • Palm Coast Family Dentistry

      At Palm Coast Family Dentistry, their goal is to provide best possible care to patients in a stress free environment in which patients have the opportunity to communicate with the entire dental team regarding their concerns about oral heal... Read More

    • Jayraj J. Patel, DMD

      Jayraj J. Patel, DMD, has been practicing general dentistry in the Central Florida region since graduating from the University of Florida College of Dentistry. His goal is to deliver comprehensive, compassionate care to his patients in a c... Read More