The History of Sedation Dentistry

May 18, 2012

The Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation reports that approximately 30 percent of people avoid visiting the dentist due to fear or anxiety. Fortunately, recent sedation techniques have changed the way many people feel about the dentist. In honor of Mental Health Month, Dr. Greenfield would like to discuss how sedation dentistry has been providing mental wellness since the 1840s.

Horace Wells

A Connecticut dentist named Horace Wells convinced his partner, John Riggs, to use nitrous oxide to extract his troublesome tooth. The extraction was a success and Wells felt no discomfort. He then attempted to demonstrate the use of nitrous oxide as an anesthetic at the Massachusetts General Hospital in 1845. However, during the demonstration, the gas bag was withdrawn too soon and the patient experienced pain. The audience booed Wells and left the room unimpressed, leaving Wells to face a lifetime of embarrassment.

William Morton

One of Horace Wells’ pupils, William Morton, witnessed the humiliating event and decided to try to perfect the procedure. In 1846, after experimenting with ether, a patient named Eben Frost came to Dr. Morton with a toothache. Morton used ether during the extraction and Frost remained comfortable during the operation. Soon later, Morton administered ether during a surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital. After the procedure proved to be effective, the use of general anesthetics became widely accepted.

Current Sedation in Lake Orion

Dr. Greenfield offers sedation dentistry to help nervous patients have a comfortable dental experience. Your Lake Orion dentist may suggest nitrous oxide to relieve minor anxiety, oral sedation to enhance patient comfort, or IV sedation to help relax highly fearful patients. Today’s sedation methods are safe and effective. Your dental team will monitor your vital signs, comfort, and needs throughout your procedure to make sure you’re staying healthy. Dr. Greenfield will also evaluate your medical history to determine if sedation dentistry is right for you.

A fear of the dentist will prevent you from receiving the proper preventive care you need to keep your smile healthy. If you have any concerns or nerves about your appointment, contact Lake Orion Family Dentistry in Lake Orion, Michigan, at (248) 693-6213 to request a sedation consultation. We welcome families from Lake Orion, Oxford, Rochester Hills, Clarkston, and the surrounding communities.

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