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Open wide please
From hand waxing to music, dentists use a variety of methods to calm patients

BY JOANN PETASCHNICK

 

Estimates show that as many as 75 percent of U.S. adults have some degree of fear of going to the dentist. But perhaps 5 to 10 percent of them actually suffer from dental phobia, which causes so much distress that they avoid the dentist at all costs — until an emergency happens. Dr. Barrett Straub of Port Washington knows all about dental phobics because they are among his patients. "A lot of my patients are fearful of coming to the dentist. What I have found is that some of them are fearful but they are able to work through it. The people who are truly phobic suffer from an irrational fear that leads them to avoid going to seek any type of dental care. I have treated patients who have not been to the dentist in 20 or 30 years," says Straub, who serves on the board of trustees of the Wisconsin Dental Association.

People fear the dentist for a variety of reasons, whether it is a previous traumatic or stressful dental experience, or they may even suffer panic attacks during dental care. Fortunately, dentists now have the tools available to put these fearful patients at ease.

"We will play music, or put on a movie or television to distract the patient. We even offer our patients a paraffin hand wax. All of these things can distract them," Straub says. "Sometimes, however, patients just want someone to listen to them and understand their fear. By listening, we form a level of trust that helps them relax," he adds.

For those patients who need something more, many dentists offer forms of sedation. Sedation dentistry can mean any type of sedative given by pill, gas or otherwise that relaxes patients for dental procedures. "We use different levels of sedation from the very light use of nitrous oxide or laughing gas to a stronger type of medication for more apprehensive people," Straub explains. Sedation is especially helpful for those with intense fear; complex dental problems; difficulty with the numbing drug Novocaine; sensitive gag reflex; or very sensitive teeth.

The use of sedation is also beneficial when patients have a busy schedule and limited time in which to complete a dental procedure. "When a patient is sedated, they can spend several hours in the office and we can accomplish as much in one visit as in two or three. And, if they are fearful, they can avoid multiple visits," Straub says.

Technology has also made the dental treatment experience less stressful — and shorter — helping to calm anxious patients. The use of computerized equipment and digital radiography translate to a more comfortable visit to the dentist.

When patients discover that they can visit the dentist without fear, they are more likely to return for regular visits, Straub points out. "Dental anxiety is real, but there are many ways for patients to get past the anxiety and receive the regular dental care that they need," he says.

Dental Resource Directory

Brookfield Dental Care

Brookfield Dental Care combines the art and science of dentistry to create beautiful smiles through cosmetic, sedation, restorative and family dentistry. Dr. Ralph Pamenter, Dr. Shana Quandt and their talented staff offer a unique combination of dental expertise, outstanding customer service and modern technology to achieve optimal results. Dr. Pamenter has trained with some of the world’s most prominent sedation dentistry specialists and is rapidly becoming known as the Brookfield area’s leading dentist for people who want to relax through their dental treatment.

17535 W. North Ave., Brookfield
(262) 786-4119

Brock Endodontics

Dr. Lynne Brock and Dr. Michael Zielinski are specialists in endodontic therapy, which involves treatment of the soft inner tissue of the teeth commonly known as the pulp. From their state-of-the-art microscopes to digital radiographs and imaging, Brock Endodontics is committed to providing high standards of care. Patient comfort is key. Movies, music, pillows and noise-reduction headsets as well as Nitrous Oxide are just a few of the choices offered to patients. The paperless practice utilizes electronic claim submissions and allows patients to complete necessary paperwork online to expedite appointment time.

20350 Water Tower Blvd., #203, Brookfield
(262) 327-6100

Dale Rottman, DDS

Dr. Dale Rottman and his staff service the North Shore communities of Mequon, Thiensville, Cedarburg, Grafton and surrounding areas. A graduate of Marquette University School of Dentistry, Dr. Rottman emphasizes patient comfort as well as keeping up-to-date with the latest advancements in dentistry. He hascompleted several post graduate courses, keeping him current in a variety of specialties, from cosmetic and restorative dentistry to surgical treatments and orthodontics.

212 Green Bay Rd., Thiensville
(262) 242-6401

Dental Implant and Periodontal Solutions

Dr. Ahmad Eslami provides a broad range of state-of-the-art specialty dental services, primarily focused in the placement of dental implants and treatment of periodontal diseases. He strives to use the most conservative, effective and least invasive techniques available. His caring, gentle approach has earned him the respect of both patients and referring dentists.

2323 S. 109th St., Ste. 275, West Allis
(414) 321-7200

EON Clinics

Eon Clinics is a state-of-the-art dental implant center that restores smiles, oftentimes in just one day. At their all-in-one facility, patients find the oral surgeon, prosthodontist, diagnostic CT-scan, dental lab and dental technicians under one roof. This unique set-up allows them to offer patients a lifetime guarantee on dental implant treatments.

20700 Swenson Dr., Waukesha
(262) 798-0200

Huck Dental LLC

Huck Dental provides personalized care for extraordinary smiles and whole-body health. Dr. Leo Huck and his team enhance and rejuvenate patients’ lives through quality general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry and restorative dentistry – and they emphasize prevention to maintain optimal wellbeing. Dr. Huck is a graduate of the Marquette University School of Dentistry where he still teaches part-time as an Adjunct Professor. Prior to attending Marquette, he practiced dentistry in Argentina for eight years after graduating from the University of Buenos Aires.

10625 W. North Avenue, Suite 320, Wauwatosa
(414) 774-5020

Dr. James Michaels
Oconomowoc Dental Center

Located in a medical building designed by a member of the Frank Lloyd Wright Fellowship, Dr. James Michaels and his staff at the Oconomowoc Dental Center take pride welcoming patients into the comforting, naturally sunlit office. From teeth whitening to oral surgery, Dr. Michaels and his staff feel it is their responsibility to continue to learn about all the latest treatments in dentistry. Services include general, cosmetic and sedation dentistry procedures.

819 Summit Avenue, Oconomowoc
(262) 314-4557

Rodica Iancu, DDS

Dr. Rodica Iancu has been practicing dentistry in the Milwaukee Northshore and Mequon area since 1984 and holds two dental doctorate degrees, specializing in both general and cosmetic dentistry. Her dental practice caters to the discriminating patient who seeks excellent dental health and wants an attractive, esthetically pleasing smile. Her main area of expertise and focus is adult esthetic, implant, restorative and reconstructive dentistry.

Dr. Iancu recently expanded to her current location in Mequon, offering a dedicated staff, comfortable surroundings and the latest technology.

10602 N. Port Washington Rd., Suite 102, Mequon
(262) 240-2220

Stephanie Murphy, DDS

Dr. Stephanie Murphy is a graduate of the Marquette University School of Dentistry and an active member of the American Dental Association and the Wisconsin Dental Association. She worked as an associate in Milwaukee’s Northshore for five years before opening her own practice last January. She believes in providing quality, comprehensive oral health care to patients of all ages. She embraces new technology with the goal of offering her patients the most advanced, effective and comfortable treatments possible.

7040 North Port Washington Rd., Suite 410, Glendale
(414) 367-6337areas.

Stone Ridge Dental Center

The focus of Stone Ridge Dental Center is to provide comfortable care with careful attention to the specific needs and objectives of patients. As a cosmetic dentist, Dr. Matthew Smith listens carefully to understand the patient’s goals and then formulates the best treatment plan. Stone Ridge Dental provides a range of services including gentle tooth cleanings, teeth whitening, dental implants & restorations and cosmetic dentistry.

N14 W23755 Stone Ridge Drive, Waukesha
(262) 523-0220

Timothy O. Hart, DDS MS

Dr. Timothy Hart offers precision dentistry in his comfortable, state-of-the-art Shorewood practice. While using the latest technology and techniques available, Dr. Hart and his team emphasize precise, minimally invasive implant dentistry. Dr. Hart was involved with the development of the Anatomage CT implant guided surgery system and has lectured nationally on the subject. He is a graduate of Loyola University School of Dentistry, an Adjunct Professor at Marquette University School of Dentistry and is active in Milwaukee area cycling organizations.

1720 E. Lake Bluff Blvd., Shorewood
(414) 962-1800

Trend Watch

Disease Intervention

Are you keeping loved ones awake with your raucous snoring? Dentists are now working in concert with physicians to diagnose diseases like sleep apnea and some cancers of the mouth. "Dentists are diagnosing and treating snoring and sleep apnea, using various FDA-approved oral appliances that are alternatives to bulky CPAP machines," says Dr. Paul Levine of Levine Dental in Brown Deer. "We also are being more proactive in looking for symptoms of certain cancers. We have special tests we are using. Early detection is important," he says.

— JoAnn Petaschnick

Digital Dentistry

Tired of lengthy and multiple dental visits? Dentistry is becoming increasingly comfortable and less time consuming for patients as dentists use more digital devices in their work. "This has come about with the use of in-office CAD/CAM equipment that lets dentists make computer-aided metal-free crowns during one office visit," says Dr. Paul Levine of Levine Dental in Brown Deer. "We don’t have to use that gooey stuff anymore to take impressions for a crown or bridge. And, we don’t always have to send things to the lab, which lets us get the work done more quickly and conveniently for our patients," he says.

— JoAnn Petaschnick

A New Smile

There aren’t many do-overs in life, but you can get a brand new smile, thanks to your dentist and an array of devices. "Braces are more widely accepted among adults than ever. We are using Invisalign, a type of clear tooth aligner, which works for some patients, or traditional braces," says Dr. Paul Levine of Levine Dental in Brown Deer. "We are also using lasers to alter the gum line and in other procedures." Soon, we may also be seeing dentists using injectable dermal fillers and Botox as a part of overall makeover procedures. "It is coming," Levine says. m

— JoAnn Petaschnick