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Gunnison Valley Hospital Opens New Dental Clinic Offering Sedation and Anesthesiology

Little Girl Brushing TeethA visit to the dentist can be stressful for an adult. Imagine what flashes through the mind of a five-year-old.

To help ease the fears children may have, dentists often team up with anesthesiologists. Now, young children can simply “sleep” through their dental procedures. For that reason, Gunnison Valley Hospital opened a special dental clinic this past March for children ages four and under as well as disabled individuals, or for anyone who requires or chooses sedation or anesthesia for a dental procedure.

“We’ve partnered with four local dentists,” Cheryl Hansen, nurse manager at the hospital adds, “to provide dental care that they are unable to provide at their individual offices without access to anesthesia services.” While these services are available to anyone, Hansen notes that insurance companies typically do not pay for dental work for individuals over the age of four using sedation or anesthesia.

In the past, says Hansen, residents in counties surrounding Gunnison Valley Hospital have had to drive at least an hour and a half to have their children checked and treated by a pediatric dentist. “Now dental services for young children and disabled individuals are available by their own family dentist here at the hospital. It’s a much less stressful experience not only for the child but also for the parents,” she adds.

The four area dentists working through the hospital are:

  • Dr. Conner Thompson, DMD, who practices in Ephraim.
  • Dr. Colton Douglas, DMD, who also practices in Ephraim.
  • Dr. Kelly Frandsen, DDS, who practices in Gunnison.
  • Dr. Barry Sorensen, DDS, who practices in Salina.

Only recently have dentists introduced sedation into their dental services. The reason is obvious. It’s nearly impossible to get very young children to sit in a dentist’s chair for any period of time. Why is it important for children to see a dentist? Children under the age of five require dental work on their “baby” teeth for a multitude of reasons. These include baby bottle tooth decay, thumb sucking, tongue thrust, early tooth loss and poor tooth care.

Additionally, in many cases, the enamel on children’s teeth is not as strong as that on adult’s teeth, which makes a child more at risk of suffering dental problems. Many parents dread the idea of taking their child to a dentist, and in some cases delay the vist rather than put themselves and their child through the discomfort. In such cases, dental care may come too late. According to the American Dental Association, babies should be seen by a dentist six months after the first tooth becomes visible or by their first birthday. At this time, dentists are able to determine problems that may surface in later years, and issues that should be corrected before they become more serious.

Consensus too is that children should definitely see a dentist by the age of two or three after all the baby teeth are in, and should follow up with checkups every six months. Studies have shown that fear of the dentist is a major reason for avoiding regular visits for children and even adults. The new dental clinic at Gunnison Valley Hospital is intended to make dental procedures available, accessible, and far less frightening.

All dental procedures requiring sedation or anesthesia are arranged directly through the individual dentists, who then arrange to come to the hospital’s dental clinic to do the required work. In order to meet the needs of the community, the hospital has created a state-of-the-art dental clinic, including all the necessary equipment required by an anesthesiologist.