The words “fear,” “anxiety,” and “pain” have long been associated with dentistry. Throughout the years the public has thought that dentistry hurts. The public’s image of the dentist has borne this out. Surveys have consistently shown that although dentistry as a profession is highly respected by the public, the image of the dentist as one who enjoys hurting people is still retained by many people. In a survey of the most common fears of adults, fear of going to the dentist ranked second only to the fear of public speaking.
Is this image of the dentist justified? I do not think so. Unfortunately, however, our predecessors in dentistry did not have at their disposal the array of equipment and medications for the management of pain and anxiety that are available today. History has recorded that members of the dental profession have consistently been in the forefront in the research and development of new techniques and medications for the management of pain and anxiety. Horace Wells (a dentist) and William T.G. Morten (dentist and physician), in the 1840’s were the founders of anesthesia and the first to employ nitrous oxide (Wells) and either (Morton) for the management of pain during dental or surgical procedures. Prior to this time dental care primarily consisted of the removal of root tips without any form or anesthetic, except for alcohol, which was frequently used preoperatively. Surgery, prior to the introduction of anesthesia, consisted almost exclusively of the amputation of limbs that had become infected and gangrenous. As in dentistry, these procedures were of necessity performed without the aid of ANY form of anesthesia.
In the area of intravenous (IV) medications and outpatient general anesthesia the dental profession again led the way. With the introduction of the IV barbiturates in the late 1930’s, Victor Goldman and Stanley Drummond-Jackson in England and Adrian Hubbell in the United States pioneered the techniques of IV General anestisia for ambulatory oral surgery patients. It was not until the 1970’s that the medical profession, realizing the merits of short-stay surgery, becgan to use the same techniques.
Paul L. Caputo, DDS3490 E Lake Rd S Suite A