It’s time for your cleaning. The hygienist escorts you back to her room, you sit down, she puts a napkin over your shirt, and the first words that pop out of your mouth are “I hate the dentist.” She laughs and says, “It’s a good thing I’m the hygienist and not the dentist, then!”
Believe it or not, it’s a line that your dental office hears multiple times a week. Don’t worry though…they’ve gotten used to it. The phrase doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings. But still, it’s a sad thing when dental visits are done out of necessity as opposed to something you can actually feel comfortable with.
A Change in Technique
In the “old days” some dental professionals were a bit rougher-around-the-edges. Comfort wasn’t always the primary concern.
Fortunately, that concept has changed. As a profession, dentists know that in years past, there has been a bad rap regarding the comfort of dental care. That’s why so many of them have focused on gentle techniques, more time available to address patient comfort, and an increase in dental sedation procedures. Even the newer generation of dental hygienists aren’t as “heavy-handed” in their instrumentation as those that came decades prior.
Newer technology and methods allow dental professionals to complete the same treatments in less time and a more comfortable manner.
Your Dental Team is There to Help
Be open about your concerns. If you have specific areas of your mouth that are more sensitive than others, or you’re contemplating giving laughing gas a try, let your dentist know. The more you share with him or her, the easier it is for them to accommodate you.
It’s not about whether you’re “tough enough” to endure the treatment…it’s more about tailoring the procedure so that you feel relaxed during the process. Everyone is different, so don’t assume that your dentist knows how you feel.
Preventive vs. Invasive
Ask yourself, “Do I hate going to the dentist because every time I go I need work done?” If you answered “yes,” then the best thing you could do is see your dentist more often!
Routine preventive care allows your dentist to spot issues or concerns before they need more invasive treatments — such as a root canal or crown — and focus on preventing problems.
Six-month preventive care appointments generally consist of a cleaning, exam, x-rays, and screenings for gum disease. Fortunately, if you have a dental insurance or dental discount plans you may get checkups for free, or at a deep discount.
In contrast, waiting until a tooth hurts before you schedule a dental appointment will almost always mean that you have to book a treatment afterwards. Even if it’s a filling, this pattern can start to wear on you if it seems like every appointment just means more dental work. If this sounds like you, it’s time to break the cycle!
“It Always Hurts”
When you show up for your dental cleaning, do you spent the entire hour white-knuckled because of the pain and sensitivity? Your hygienist isn’t doing it out of fun. Sore gums and bleeding doesn’t mean that your cleaning is too rough. The real reason is that you probably haven’t been flossing all that great (as in every day) between your checkups. Even a mild amount of plaque or tartar buildup is enough to trigger periodontitis (gum disease) which can result in swollen, bleeding gums that are tender to the touch. Your hygienist will need to thoroughly clean these areas before you can start on your way to recovery!
Most Dentists are Empathetic
It’s not uncommon to hear about people becoming dentists because of a situation that happened to them growing up. Maybe they were afraid of the dentist, had a tooth knocked out, or even experienced poor and aggressive dental care…but now they want to promise something better for people in the same situation.
Find a dentist and staff that you feel comfortable with. From a friendly receptionist who remembers your name, to a dentist that remembers to ask about your summer vacation plans…a personal connection can make a huge difference. Dentists are real people, too.
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