Tuesday 10 December 2019

Take fear factor out of fillings with sedation dentistry

Lisa Creavan (29), from Corrandullagh in Galway, owns and operates Quay Dental in the heart of Galway city. She specialises in sedation dentistry for patients with odontophobia, a phobia of dentists.

"I took over the business four years ago from a retiring dentist, not long after I qualified at Trinity College Dublin. It was only when I went into private practice that I realised just how many people have a real fear of going to the dentist.

So many patients needed and wanted treatment, but just couldn't face the needles and general experience. Odontophobia is a genuine phobia with no logic to it - the person knows the pain will be bearable and they will be fine, but still can't handle it.

That is where sedation dentistry comes in. Patients are treated with an intravenous drug similar to valium. They are still awake, but don't really know what's going on.

It's much safer than general anaesthetic - the patient just needs to be medically fit to qualify, we look out for things like serious heart problems or uncontrolled diabetes. I trained in London at UCL's Eastman Institute.

It really is a brilliant solution. People can come in and get as many treatments as they need in one go, without discomfort.

There are a few other dentists practising sedation dentistry in Ireland but we are unusual in that we offer it even for patients who only need a filling or two, not limiting it to big procedures like wisdom tooth extractions.

I think it's far better to fix a cavity under sedation than have the person ignore the problem out of fear, and end up in hospital under a general anaesthetic needing a more complicated treatment. There is widespread use of the technique in the UK; the NHS recognises that it is a more cost-effective approach in the long term.

It has really taken off but I really don't think that small and medium businesses get enough supports. We've gone from two people to ten people in four years, but hiring staff is still so difficult - paying PRSI for a new person is a real challenge. I'd love to be able to hire more people.

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