Editor's note: More area medical stories can be found in the Health Directory included in today's Sentinel.
FAIRMONT - "If I had a dollar for every people I've had say, 'Just knock me out,'" quipped Dr. Jon Erickson as he spoke about nervous dental patients. "Well, we can do that."
Erickson owns Fairmont Family Dentistry, one of only a handful of general dentist office's in the state that are licensed to offer sedation dentistry.
Dental assistant Darcy Graif, left, and Dr. Jon Erickson, right, confer with a patient about intravenous sedation for a dental procedure.
"We've done over 250 patients, which averages out to two or three a month," Erickson said. "It requires a 90-hour class, and additional inspections to stay certified. We also need extra emergency equipment and medicines. We bring in a registered nurse to assist with the procedure."
Erickson practices intravenous sedation only, and the patients who use it are either having wisdom teeth extracted or those who are more nervous about a procedure.
"Some people are afraid with just the fillings," he said. "There are also some people with a sensitive gag reflex and they need to be sedated just to make a (dental) impression."
Not everyone is a candidate for sedation. The procedure is not used on children, and there are some medical conditions that would make a patient unable to use sedation.
"We want people to be able to walk out the door when it's done," Erickson said. "We need the patient to be able to swallow when they need to. But it will leave the patient a little sleepy, and they'll need another person to get them home."
There are some advantages and disadvantages to the IV sedation.
"With the IV, there is better control over the dosages." Erickson said. "You can dial in where you need to be, but keep the reflexes where they need to be, yet the patient won't remember the procedure. ... It's different from oral sedation in that it's more reliable and predictable, but it's also a more delicate procedure."