It's a gas: Community Dental Services puts anxious patients at ease

Tuesday, November 08, 2022
It's a gas: Community Dental Services puts anxious patients at ease
Bendigo Health Community Dental Services has successfully introduced nitrous oxide sedation to help treat anxious patients.

With dental fear and anxiety affecting up to one in five Australians and issues such as declining oral health becoming more prevalent, Senior Dentist at Bendigo Health Community Dental Services, Dr Amanda Leske, saw the need for the introduction of nitrous oxide sedation.

Dr Leske is currently the only specialist paediatric dentist in a regional community dental agency in Victoria. Upon commencing in 2021, Dr Leske soon identified a large proportion of child and adult patients who were unable to complete their recommended treatment in the dental chair due to high fear and anxiety.

Nitrous oxide is an inhaled gas with proven safety and effectiveness for reducing dental procedural anxiety. Previously, nitrous oxide sedation has only been available to patients attending private dental practices or those referred to specialist metropolitan hospitals. However, thanks to initiatives developed by Dental Health Services Victoria, this has changed.

Since 2021, the dental team has treated over 100 patients using nitrous sedation, avoiding the need for general anaesthetic and reducing the burden on the theatre service. After establishing an effective workflow and proper safety procedures, Dr Leske saw an opportunity to expand nitrous sedation to other regional public dental services, including Echuca Regional Health.

Senior Dentist at Echuca Regional Health, Dr Anjali Ragade, wanted to introduce nitrous sedation into her community dental clinic and had attended the nitrous training course offered by Dental Health Services Victoria. However, the small regional clinic lacked the confidence to proceed with the initiative.

Thanks to working relationships between the two regional clinics, Dr Ragade and her dental assistants were able to attend a two-day nitrous training, observation and supervision program at Bendigo Health led by Dr Leske.
On the first day of utilising nitrous oxide sedation, Dr Ragade and her team successfully treated all patients, ensuring greater levels of access to dental treatment in the future.

Dental Services and Echuca Regional Health would like to thank the Bendigo Health Program Manager, Clinic Coordinator, Admin Team Leader and senior dental assistants who worked tirelessly to ensure the implementation of nitrous sedation at both clinic was a success.