The first time Shauna Bolton went to the dentist after having a lung transplant, it didn’t go well. Her mind began scrolling through all the shots she’d had for pain and all the times she’d had blood drawn, and she found herself in the middle of a PTSD attack. “I just went to pieces,” says Bolton.
More recently, she visited Cooper Moss Advanced Dentistry to have several teeth filled and the experience was entirely different. “They hooked me up to some nitrous oxide and let me sit there for about 25 minutes, so it could really take hold and be effective,” she says. “There was someone in the room with me the whole time, which was nice because I didn’t know what effect the gas would have on my lungs or my breath. That made me feel quite safe.”
The staff at Cooper Moss are used to patients with dental anxiety and have a multi-tiered strategy for working with them that starts when someone walks through the door. “Our interview process with people is reassuring,” says Dr. Bruce Cooper. “We find out what their hurdles are and adapt our plan to meet them where they are and figure out what they need to be successful.”
Options range from audio and video entertainment systems to moderate sedation. “We concentrate on comfort and pain control, and a really good anesthetic works for 95 percent of people,” says Cooper. The next step up is nitrous oxide, which allows patients to relax during the more sensitive parts of procedures. For those who need more stringent measures, mild and moderate sedation are possible, but need to be pre-planned because patients can’t drive afterward.
Many patients with dental phobia or anxiety get caught in a downward spiral of avoiding dentists until whatever problems they have are acute, making treatment more challenging. The goal is to get such patients on a regular schedule, says Cooper. “If we can utilize some of the tools we have to make the experience more manageable for them, we can override some of the fears and concerns, so they come back for routine check-ups.”
If Bolton is any example, the approach is working. “It was one of the first times I’d been to the dentist where I didn’t feel any fear about what might take place in my head,” she says. “I got the work done without getting upset, went home, and that was that. Now I don’t fear having to go back and have something else done.”
For more information, visit the Cooper Moss Dentistry website or call 360-357-8075.