Stemming the Flow

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  Posted by: manpreet.boora      27th September 2017

As dentists, we have seen for ourselves that some supposedly strong and silent types can squeal in horror when they come up against one of their deep-seated fears: a visit to the dental practice.

There are three major fears that deter them, research has found. Probably the most common is pain, although it has been pointed out that this is more often a cognitive and emotional reaction than an actual physiological one; the fear of losing control over what is being done to them; and embarrassment from the state of their teeth.
Significant advances in technology and treatment approaches in recent decades have reduced the apprehension often associated with dental visits. Even with these changes, including the advent of ergonomic dental chairs, soothing toned colour schemes in practices and dental unit designs that shield instruments from view, there are fears that persist.
There is the feeling of vulnerability from lying in a prone position, with their main means of communication – their mouth – obstructed, that kindles intense anxiety, even dread, in many patients.

The fear of choking is among the leading concerns of those with dental phobia. They may feel that they are drowning on their own saliva, that they cannot swallow with their mouth open or that they may choke on dental instruments, gauze or cotton wool or if the chair is adjusted too far back.

When it comes to the issue of excess saliva, the usual approach is to use saliva ejectors – but there is controversy over the risks their misuse can bring to patients. Although the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there have been no adverse health effects associated with the saliva ejector, the organisation also warns the dental healthcare personnel that backflow can occur during the use of the instrument.
One dental hygiene practitioner compared the risk of backflow – which may include previous patients’ waste material, colonised biofilm from the tubing and chemicals from flushing the line – as similar to asking people to jump off a bridge or stick their fingers in a light socket.

Efforts have already been made to improve the safety of saliva ejectors, with the development of products with built-in backflow prevention devices and advocacy of proper cleaning of the instruments and mandatory disposal after single use.
Even with these precautionary measures, the dental community is always called upon to develop innovative approaches to patient treatment for enhanced comfort and peace of mind. On the issue of saliva control, the innovations include NeoDrys Saliva Absorbents, from Dental Express, a trading division of Surgery Express LLP, which out-perform all other similar products on the market.
Let’s do our best to serve our patients’ needs – and keep them out of harm’s way.
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