2516-A Oakcrest Avenue , Greensboro, NC 27408,
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Greensboro dentist discusses the history of sedation dental treatment

Dr. Steven Hatcher get the dental treatment they need without pain or anxiety.

The history of dentistry dates back some 14,000 years to an Italian tooth treated with flint instruments. However, current archeological research indicates that Neanderthals may have used rudimentary dental tools 130,000 years ago! From those ancient eras to current times, discomfort and anxiety associated with dental treatment has no doubt been a concern. Greensboro dentist, Dr. Steven Hatcher of Triad Dentistry, shares this brief but intriguing lesson in the role of sedation in dentistry.

Pain vs. anxiety

In the context of dental sedation, pain and anxiety are often confused. While both triggered by a primal “fight or flight” survival instinct, the actual responses are different.

Hurt originates when there is tissue injury or inflammation that stimulate pain receptors. They release chemicals that race to the spinal cord, which carries the message to the brain. The thalamus receives the impulse and forwards it to the cerebral cortex – the part of the brain that decodes messages. When the brain perceives pain, it instantly sends that message back to the site of injury, telling you to do something about it before more harm is incurred.

Anxiety is a mechanism that biologically heightens our sense of awareness, so we are better prepared to deal with potential threats. While stress is the product of external factors, anxiety is created internally by natural, neurological processes. The amygdala is a communication hub in the brain that helps to process incoming sensory signals. It alerts your brain based on emotional memories (fears) encoded in the hippocampus. Anxiety floods your system with norepinephrine and cortisol, which boosts perception and reflexes. How? By increasing heart rate to send more air to lungs and more blood to muscles.

Obviously, for pain-free dental treatment, both responses must be controlled.

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Dental sedation through the ages

An analgesic is a drug that relieves pain by blocking the communication of pain receptors and the brain. A sedative calms anxiety centers in the brain, inducing a sense of relaxation. There can be some crossover with certain medication, but the history of dentistry has proven that the most effective treatment comes from a combination of these medications.

Here are some highlights of the journey:

  • 2250 BC – Babylonians made a cement of henbane seed and gum mastic to relieve the pain of tooth decay.
  • 1540 – An early version of ether – synthesized sweet vitriol – is produced in Germany. However, it isn’t used in dental procedures until 1842.
  • 1779 – The euphoric properties of nitrous oxide are discovered, dubbing the product “laughing gas.”
  • 1844 – Nitrous oxide is tested in a tooth extraction procedure. While the patient remained happy, he did feel pain.
  • 1904 – The medication known as Novocain is discovered.
  • 1942 – 1942 – The “age of anesthesia” is ushered in with the use of a South American poison called curare. From it came many now familiar medications such as lidocaine, halothane, and Pavulon.
  • 1963 – The benzodiazepine family of sedatives best known as Valium is approved by the FDA.

Dental advances made possible with sedation

Steven L. Hatcher, DDS, PA has a proud history of caring for smiles in Greensboro, NC.

Local numbing adequately controls discomfort for less involved procedures such as cavity preparation for fillings, and even more extensive treatments like placement of dental implants or straightforward extractions. However, if you develop anxiety during preparation for the procedure, you are likely to unconsciously “fight” the dentist. Tensing the neck and back or clenching jaws makes treatment more traumatic than it needs to be. Oral or inhaled sedation provide emotional and physical relaxation. That lets the doctor work more efficiently, gets you out of the chair faster, and promotes speedier healing.

An individual with severe dental phobia may have difficulty seeking any treatment – even calling to make an appointment. Knowing that gentle sedation is available helps you get the care you need.

Types of sedation dental treatment available in Greensboro

Triad Dentistry’s goal is to see each patient enjoy the emotional and wellness benefits of a healthy mouth. In addition to numbing injections, he offers nitrous oxide inhaled sedation. It is a good choice to “take the edge off” for a nervous patient, without residual grogginess, and it is safe for children, too. Oral conscious sedation is a pill that brings a bit deeper sense of relaxation. Intravenous sedation is ideal for lengthier procedures. It is a more intense level of sedation but doesn’t knock you out like general anesthesia, and it can be continually adjusted to ensure your comfort.

We aren’t living in the Stone Age! Call Triad Dentistry in Greensboro, NC to learn more about modern sedation options for comfortable dental treatment – (336) 383-1482.


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Triad Dentistry - Dr. Steven Hatcher

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A graduate from the University of North Carolina, Dr. Hatcher majored in biology and completed his undergraduate studies there. At UNC, he was awarded a cancer research grant from the National Institutes of Health after which he graduated from dental school.

Dr. Hatcher is a passionate and driven professional who strives to preserve and enhance natural beauty in every dental treatment. He is keen on developing an individualist approach when it comes to treating his patients to ensure patient care is a tailor-made experience for the comfort of each client.

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First time visit with cleaning and evaluation. New dentists always seem to find significant work which would return your situation to optimum condition. Clearly need a cavity repaired. Will reserve comment on actual work for when work is done. And, repair work was outstanding!
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Dr. Steven Hatcher member of American Dental Association Dr. Steven Hatcher member of The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) Dr. Steven Hatcher member of The Dawson Academy Dr. Steven Hatcher member of American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine Logo Dr. Steven Hatcher member of The Pankey Institute Dr. Steven Hatcher member of Cerec Online