By Lauren Saslow

Regular visits to the dentist are no laughing matter. Although routine care can prevent serious health problems, the American Association of Endodontists (AAE) discovered that 80 percent of adults succumb to their dental anxiety. Whether the fear is from a previous experience or fabricated situations that patients assume will be frightening, they would rather suffer from tooth pain rather than seek dental care.

Doctors of Dental Surgery (DDS), Erika Y. Caviedes, and her husband Joseph Gulle, who both earned their degrees from New York University, opened GC Dental Arts in 2007, conveniently located near U.S. Hwy. 301 just north of the Big Bend Road intersection in Riverview. Their practice is aimed at addressing these fears.

“People don’t walk through the dentist’s office jumping up and down,” Dr. Caviedes joked sympathetically. “I see patients who haven’t been to a dentist in 10-20 years, but the treatments we offer change their perception.”

The first option is laughing gas (nitrous oxide). It allows the patient to relax and even causes short-term amnesia so the individual will not remember the procedure and therefore not avoid future visits. A second option is a short-term anti-anxiety medication called Halcion (triazolam). For a planned procedure, Dr. Caviedes will prescribe the medication in advance for the patient to take the night prior and again an hour before the appointment. (They will need to arrange a driver to transport them to and from the appointment.) Both treatments are covered by most dental insurance. Finally, for those who simply detest noise from the drill, Dr. Caviedes recommends they bring their own headphones and music, or watch a program on the television in the exam room.

She explained that while root canals – the most feared dental procedure – previously required three agonizing visits, it could now be finished in only one procedure using machines that reduce pain. She offered this advice, “Prevention is best to avoid damage to the teeth and gums. It’s important to have routine cleanings every six months.” This includes children as young as two years, once their first set of molars grow into their mouths.

GC Dental Arts is located at 13051 Summerfield Dr. in Riverview. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 672-4900 or visit Business hours are 8 a.m.–5 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and 9 a.m.–6 p.m. on Wednesday.

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