The Reason Dentist Tilts You Upside Down

chair clean clinic dental care
Photo by Daniel Frank on

Don’t like when the dentist chair goes down? Well, you are not alone. When sitting on a dental chair and your dentist begins to tilt the chair down, you feel comfortable to the certain point. But when the seat keeps on going down after you think that surely it cannot go any further and you feel like you are going to slide off the chair, you clutch the chair handles (if there is any – mine doesn’t). You might state that you feel like you are upside down. You might ask the dentist to lift the chair more upward position, or to adjust the head rest so that you feel more comfortable.

Guess what we think at that point? Well, normally we might feel slightly annoyed because you might be the dentist’s fifteenth patient that day and her back and shoulders are aching from the difficult working positions. Nevertheless the dentist might lift the chair more upright. Some might not even tilt patients low enough in the first place to avoid complaint that we have heard gazillion times before.

Neither of these ways is good practice because these dentists and hygienists who are trying to fulfil patient’s every wish, risk their future as dental professionals. Keeping the patient chair in too upright position means that it is practically impossible to work ergonomically. Working ergonomically as often as possible guarantees that we will be working on our dream job (?) until we retire.

Of course there are patients that we need to leave upright position by default. These patient are e.g. heavily pregnant ladies, obese people, people with heart condition and elderly people. But the normal patients can be tilted to the position that is best for dental professionals posture. By normal I mean patients that are healthy or do not have severe medical conditions.

Request for the Patients

Next time you visit your dentist, make her happy by not saying anything about the position of the chair. They will not let you fall. Also you will get better quality of treatment when the dentist can see better to the difficult areas of you mouth. And you don’t need to swallow so much of water when the nurse is able to see the back of you mouth.

Advice for the Dental Professional

But what to do when a patient complains about the chair position? Well, the key to keeping patient happy is to be one step ahead of the game.

First thing you can do is to take the chair down gradually. Taking it all the way down in one go will most probably make your patient complain.

If I hear a complaint even though I’be been tilting the chair down slowly, I reassure the patient by saying

I know you feel like you are going to slide off the chair but so far no-one has. You will get used to the position soon. This position helps me to keep my posture and to see your upper teeth properly.

Patient is often fine during the treatment. When the session is over and I lift the chair up again, some patients state that they feel dizzy when getting up. Tell them to sit still and that there’s no hurry to leave the patient chair (well, you need to make the notes anyway, so it does not require extra time). It is best to sit still, well supported and wait for the things to settle.

If you face a difficult patient that insists to lift the chair more upright even though there is no medical reason for it, tell them that you will do so if the patients feels it is necessary but that you cannot guarantee the best possible result of e.g. scaling because you won’t be able to reach the upper back teeth in a right angle. And if you do still need to lift the chair too upright, it is best to stand up to be able to have as good posture as possible.

If It Really Is Your Dream Job – Important Tip for You

I’ve noticed that it is often the dentists and hygienists that have just graduated that too easily work in non-ergonomic way. It probably is because they still feel invincible. I know, because I did so too! Now having been on this profession for over 20 years and having had both of my shoulders operated (successfully!) due to work related conditions in both of them, I really need to focus on better posture with each patient. And still I get back ache almost every day. But I’m no longer in despair because I have found a cure for the back ache. So keep on reading because I’m going to share the best tip for keeping you going day after day, week after week, year after year in this profession.

I’ve known for a long time that there are these foam rollers that you can buy to exercise at home. Even my gym has had them for ages. But I never really knew how or why to use it until one day I tried one for my back. I placed it between the floor and my back, placed my hands on my shoulders (left hand to right shoulder and right hand to left shoulder) and by using my legs rolled the foam roller slowly up and down my spine like in the picture here. You can also find a good video of using the roller here.

This really keeps me going and I wonder why no-one has told me about it before!? That is why I’m telling you.

Before you start using the foam roller, there is one thing you need to keep in mind. My physiatrist emphasised that if you are going to use a roller, it needs to be a foam roller. Too hard roller will not be good for your spine.

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Dental Erosion Risk Factors in Bullet Points

Eating fruits and berries frequently will put you at risk of dental erosion.

There has been so much discussion about dental erosion recently that I wanted to gather all the latest information in one post. I have been in dental profession for over 20 years and even I still learn new things about dental erosion. So read this post to see if you knew these things as well.

I will update this post every time I learn something new that will cause dental erosion. I would be grateful if you could collaborate by commenting this post in case I have missed some risk factors.

The Risk Factors

  • diet that does not contain dairy products
  • vegetarian diet even if dairy products are used
  • consumption of acidic beverages, especially when consumed between the meals (including all juices, sugar-free drinks, sparkling water, any drink with flavouring, alcohol and bubbles. As an example the pH of Coca-Cola is 2,5 = highly acidic)
  • vitamin supplements in a form of a drink (including fizzy tablets)
  • use of sport drinks
  • dehydration
  • dehydration + sport drinks = increased risk
  • drinking tea apart from green tea and black tea
  • consumption of erosive foods, increased risk if consuming erosive foods/drinks over 3 times per day (e.g. fruits, berries, vinegar, pickled food, herbal tea, cola, sparkling water, juice, flavoured water)
  • eating sour candy
  • frequent consumption of alcohol
  • use of smokeless tobacco
  • frequent use of salad dressings
  • gastro-esophagel reflux disease (GERD)
  • gastro-esophagel reflux disease combined with a use of a mouth guard (read this to find out how to protect your teeth if you use mouth guard)
  • eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia)
  • frequent vomiting (e.g. when pregnant)
  • eating fruits between the meals (when fruits are eaten as a part of a meal = no risk)
  • eating indian food frequently (indian spices, especially panipuri masala, are acidic)
  • swishing acidic drink in mouth before swallowing
  • sipping an acidic drink (e.g. herbal tea, cola, sparkling water, juice, flavoured water) over a long period of time
  • brushing teeth after eating
  • brushing teeth after drinking acidic drinks like wine, juice, sparkling water
  • dry mouth (saliva protects the teeth, neutralises the acids)
  • drinking herbal tea very hot (high temperature increases the erosive potential of a drink)
  • consumption of pickled foods
  • medication that dry the mouth as a side-effect (e.g. antihistamines, antidepressants)
  • use of oral moisturizers with pH below 6.7 (see a table pH levels of commonly used oral moisturizers and dry mouth treatment products here)
  • acidic mouthwashes e.g. Listerine Total Care rinse pH = 3.57
  • anti-tartar toothpastes that has chelating agents – chelators bind or trap other chemicals such as calcium = they effectively remove calcium also from teeth.
  • use of non-fluoride toothpaste
  • liquid breakfast (including smoothies). There’s no saliva in mouth in the morning = nothing to neutralise acids. Chewable breakfast would make the saliva flow again after sleeping.
  • certain illnesses that affect the saliva flow (e.g. Sjögren’s syndrome)
  • drinking fruit juices instead of eating the real fruit – fruit juice has been proven to cause erosion 10 times more than the same fruit chewed.
  • chewing gum with liquid center including sugar-free chewing gums (also xylitol). The liquid inside the chewing gum is acidic.
  • sugar-free candy, especially fruit-flavoured ones (they contain high levels of food acid, particularly citric and phosphoric acid)
  • dry mouth + sugar-free fruit-flavoured candy to stimulate saliva flow = increased risk of erosion
  • asthma medication, especially if brushing after corticosteroids (e.g. Flixotide evohaler)

Edit 27.1.2019

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Top Tips For Those Scared Of Visiting The Dentist

Guest post by Danny Callan
Dental Revelations Blog-15
Could this little fella ease your fear of the dentist?

Sweaty palms, shaky fingers, heartbeat going like mad? You’re probably scared, but you don’t have to worry. Dental phobia is a serious thing. A lot of people will wave it off because in the end, you will still have to go to the dentist to make sure your teeth are happy. But it’s still a common issue and can be disturbing for many people. As a result, people with this phobia will avoid going to check-ups, until they are basically forced by hand. At 360 Dental, we’re quite used to helping patients who have a fear of the dentist. So, instead of just telling you to deal with it, we have created a list that can help you with your fears.

Talk to your dentist

Talking about your fears might actually be scarier than your actual fear but trust us when we say it will be good for you. Speaking to your dentist about your worries will help them understand how to make the environment comfortable for you, and it will help you feel like you can trust them. Your dentist will probably be more than happy to talk through each step of the treatment as they go through it, which is proven to be extremely helpful with anxious patients.

Find the right dentist

Don’t stop until you find someone you actually like because, as much as we hate to say it, you have to go to the dentist and you don’t want to be dreading it every time just because you are stuck with the dentist you don’t like. Organise some appointments and figure out whether the dentists are accommodating to your needs, whether the building is spacious and whether it just makes you relax a bit more. If the surroundings make you feel even more nervous or the dentist isn’t being accommodating then you can simply walk away – don’t settle for second best just because taking care of your teeth is important, take time to get to know them and that can go a long way in getting through your appointments.

Bring something to listen to

If having your dentist talk through what they are about to do will just make you more nervous then maybe opt for music instead. Listening to your own music or a podcast will help take your mind away from the probing that is going on in your mouth. If there ever was a time to listen to guilty pleasures without being judged, now is. Some people prefer listening to familiar music – something that reminds you of a happy memory, but basically just listen to anything you can truly concentrate on.

Bring someone with you

A friend, a family member, maybe a dog? Not sure if you’re allowed to bring pets into a dentist appointment, but can’t hurt to ask, right? Bringing somebody will help give you an extra layer of support so that you feel more comfortable and relaxed. This means that they will be able to talk to you during the appointment, focus your mind on something else and, before you know it, your appointment will be over! Also, it makes the whole experience a bit more enjoyable – going to the dentist isn’t exactly the most exciting thing but bringing a friend might be a laugh.

Reward yourself

If there was any reason to go shopping or go for a meal, this would be it. Having to face your fears is difficult, but when it comes to the dentist, it’s pretty necessary – unless you don’t care about taking care of your teeth anyway. In fact, you can even make it become a day out – it will be nice to look forward to something else after spending the day not looking forward to the appointment. In fact, if you’re bringing somebody with you, then the whole experience can become even more enjoyable. By the end of the day, your dentist appointment will be nothing but a small task and you probably would have forgotten about it the second you walk out the door.

Change your diet

When it comes to anxiety, some foods can make it worse. Before your dentist appointment, avoid any drinks high in caffeine or foods high in sugar. These will make you shaky and more anxious, so taking them out of your diet will be a huge help. Obviously, we’re not talking about forever, just on the day of your visit – as soon as you walk out of the building, you can down a latte. Plus, technically it’s also healthy to reduce these ingredients anyway. So, if you’re up for trying a new diet at the same time, it’s a win-win situation.

Visit regularly

Obviously, if you’re scared of the dentist, the last thing you want to do is to do it again. But, if we’re being honest, that’s the best way to get over fears or at least to the point where you are comfortable with them. This way, you’ll get to know your dentist, get to trust them and that’s important. Plus, hopefully, after a few times, you will become aware of what happens during your appointments, so nothing should surprise you when it’s just a simple check-up.

Plan ahead of your appointment

A lack of organisation can make your anxiety worse than it has ever been. Planning ahead of your appointment and having spare time will help you feel calmer about the visit – it gives you time to practice some breathing movements, listen to some music and just chill out. If you’re rushing, then you’re more likely to panic and over think about the situation which will raise your anxiety levels through the roof.

Going to the dentist doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds. While it is a lot harder to just “face your fears”, there are things you can do to help with the problem. Trying out some of these steps is just the beginning, but the most important thing is to find a dentist that you feel comfortable with and the more often you go, the more you will get used to it.

Baby steps. If your dentist is good, they will take what you need in consideration by giving you control, making you relaxed and scheduling during calmer times.

Author Bio

Danny Callan

Danny works for 360 Dental, one of Manchester’s most popular dentists. They help 1,000’s of residents in Manchester create their perfect smile.

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