LA MESA — When it comes to putting people in a stupor, Jeff Gray is some sort of wizard.
In his line of work that’s not a bad thing. The La Mesa dentist gets a lot of patients who have a history of white-knuckling it in the dental chair. They come to him looking for help.
Gray, 51, is so good at comforting the afflicted that he was recently named the "Sedation Dentist of the Year" by a national organization, DOCS Education.
"The main thing you hear from people is that they are super scared," he said. "You’ve got people coming in saying, ‘I’ve got nothing against you, Jeff, but I hate dentists.’ "
He said most of his first-time patients take Triazolam, a tiny pill that puts them in a state of twilight sleep. He considers the medicine more effective than nitrous oxide, also known as "laughing gas," which continues to be offered by many dentists.
Once the pill kicks in, he said, "it’s like the lights are on but nobody’s home."
Gray’s Fletcher Parkway office is designed to calm patient nerves. The walls are wheat-colored, the lighted muted. He started his East County practice in the 1980s.
He also spearheaded the creation of Smiles for Life, a nationwide charity that helps children with dental needs.
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