Dental Distress? Not Here

At Gables Sedation Dentistry, the Object is to Overcome Anxiety – and Pain

November 2019

The idea that it’s good to avoid pain has not always been in vogue. Before the advent of morphine and anesthesia in the 19th century, there were many – doctors among them – who felt that pain was a necessary part of the healing process.

Fortunately for the citizens of the 21st century, the medical community is now dedicated to alleviating pain in any way possible. And very fortunately for those who fear visiting a dentist, a growing number of these medical specialists are becoming adept at overcoming any and all pain their patients experience.

Nowhere is that dedication to a painless dental experience more pronounced than at Gables Sedation Dentistry. Launched in 2007 by Drs. Jorge Fornaris, DMD, and Ramiro Esparragoza, DDS, the practice is immersed in the avoidance of pain, with both doctors trained and board certified to administer nitrous oxide (aka laughing gas) and intravenous (injected) sedation.

“More than half the population has a fear of dental procedures,” says Dr. Esparragoza, “and the reason is their fear of pain. That is the number one reason they postpone dental procedures. And of course, if you wait, the condition will get worse.” For the patients of Gables Sedation, everything is done to allay fear and anxiety right from the start: In the waiting room there is a large screen TV showing nature scenes from the Animal Planet channel. Next to it is a coffee/tea machine that dispenses everything from café mocha to chai tea. Once you are seated in a dentist’s chair, you are handed a “Comfort Menu,” with choices of blanket, chap stick, mint or chocolate, stress ball, water, coffee, juice, and/or noise cancelling headphones for your cellphone playlist. You may not need the latter; the piped-in music is soothing light jazz.

Next comes the fun part: your choice of laughing gas or an injection of sedatives. Pick the latter and you will fall asleep. Pick the former and you will drift into a delightful twilight zone, where you can feel what’s being done to you, but somehow it doesn’t hurt – or even matter.

“With the gas you are very relaxed, but awake and aware of where you are. But the anxiety is gone,” says Dr. Esparragoza. “With the intravenous [injection] you are pretty much asleep during the entire procedure.” The only deeper place to go is via an anesthesiologist; the center has one on retainer, but they rarely use this procedure, which requires intubation to support your breathing. For those who use gas, the recovery time is almost immediate; patients can drive themselves home. For injected sedation, you’re not allowed to drive for 24 hours (or operate heavy machinery!)

Not everyone can be a pain-free patient at Gables Sedation, says Dr. Fornaris. Highly obese people and those with sleep apnea are not candidates, because they have compromised airways. But for the rest, game on.

“Normally people think of the dentist and think it is painful. That’s where we come in. This is an unmet need for the population,” says Fornaris whose practice has hit such a nerve (pun intended) that they “can hardly field the patients we have.”