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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The Ickiest Things You Can Do at the Dentist

Putting Your Finger Inside Your Mouth

It always hits me with surprise how clueless people are about transmission of infections. In the middle of the treatment they might show with their finger which tooth feels sensitive. That’s when I say Eew in my mind. Why would you put your finger inside your mouth? And it’s always the index finger which we use to operate our smart (and dirty) phones and push the elevator button (I don’t actually, I use the proximal interphalangeal joint (PIP) of index finger because of my fear of bacteria – read more about it here) that gazillion people have pushed before you with their dirty index finger. Some even do grosser things with their index finger.

So please, do not put your finger inside your mouth. Your tongue is able to do the job instead.

Carrying Your Toothbrush Without Cover

Some people are obsessed about brushing their teeth prior the dental visit. They might do it at the practice’s toilet just before they come in to the surgery. No problem with that, but when you walk in to the surgery with the toothbrush, your car keys and wallet in your hands and place them on our office desk, that’s when we go Eew again. Especially if the toothbrush doesn’t have any travel case. We don’t wipe all the practice’s surfaces after each patient, so there will be germs on the table surface where you leave your stuff. And where are you going to put it when you get back to your car?

Equally gross thing is to put your toothbrush inside your handbag without travel case. But at least then we are not able to see it.

“Sucking the Sucker”

By far the ickiest thing to my mind are the patients who close their lips around the saliva ejector or the high volume suction. I was horrified for the first time it happened with my patient. To be fair, it’s not their fault. They do this probably because some of the dental professional advise patients to do so. Honestly, fellow dental professionals, do your research and stop advising to close the mouth when the suction is inside the mouth.

Why?

It’s because of the backflow of bacteria and viruses. When patients close their mouth and form a seal around the tip of the saliva ejector, a partial vacuum occurs. That’s when the nasty stuff in the tube of the suction start travelling backwards – blood, viruses, saliva, bacteria, debris. They might travel as far as into the patient’s mouth. If you don’t believe me, read this.

If you are a patient and your dentist or hygienist advises you to close your lips around the suction, don’t do it. You don’t need to. This might of course mean that you need to swallow tiny amount of water, but the water is cleaner (or is it?) than the stuff that comes out from to suction with the backflow.

It is also absolutely your right to ask if they take care of the suction tube cleaning. They should answer you that

Yes, we flush the lines after each patient with clean water (this will take the nasty staff further away) and at the end of the day we flush the tubes with disinfectant. Also once or twice a week we use special cleaner for the suction lines.

Ok, there it was. Three of the ickiest things patients can do at the dentist. Do you know even grosser thing? Feel free to share it on the comment box below. Let’s see if it gets an Eew -reaction.


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Compensation Culture Sucks

dental-revelations-blog

A 30-year-old lady had been to see a hygienist for a scale and polish, went home and took a small mirror that she put inside her mouth to have a look behind her front teeth.

“Stains!!”

She went back to the surgery and complained to the receptionist about inadequate scaling. She was booked in to see another hygienist who confirmed there were some stains left behind (palatally) the upper front teeth. Otherwise the scaling was done well enough.

Patient left the practice seemingly happy but the next day she called the practice that she still wasn’t happy. She also complained about the dentist she had seen.

The hygienists and the dentist discussed about the patient and came into conclusion that this patient could not be pleased and the complaints would be never-ending. They all had had the same feeling about the patient when she was in the chair. It was a feeling of unease and of a need to explain excessively everything they were doing or saying to avoid a complaint. They decided together that the patient would not be welcomed anymore and the practice manager was the one to break the news to the patient.

Thankfully the practice owner was supportive over the decision.  He said

“We don’t need that kind of patient in our practice. She will only bring bad blood and it’s just not worth it. We can’t help her.”

The Compensation Culture

The compensation culture in the UK (and perhaps even more so in the US) is making a life of a dental professional very hard. It is ludicrous that the main focus of seeing the patients is in the avoidance of possible complaint.

The rotten apples amongst us dental professionals are perhaps to blame. And the media has done their share as well (has there actually been a program about rogue dentists?). The way the media is sharing news is focused on gruesome headlines and there seem to be less and less investigative journalists in the payroll of the media. Instead there are these copy-paste-wannabe-journalists whose main focus and reason for existence is to get as many clicks as possible on their news. Here’s one example:

Dental anguish: Indiana man who expected to have four teeth pulled woke up in hospital TOOTHLESS” (Find the news here)

This and similar headlines were quickly released around the world without giving the dentist a chance to respond. He would have wanted to respond, I’m sure but there are laws that prevent us dental professionals responding publicly to the accusations made against us when it is about doctor-patient relationship.

Later on the dentist was allowed to discuss the patient case but far fewer media released his response (you can find the response here). So the dentist suffered financial loss over these headlines only because the media is fishing the clicks. Of course there wouldn’t be these headlines if there weren’t people clicking them…

Learn the Phrases

You know what? It is time to fight back the compensation culture. You can do this by learning to use certain phrases. I will list the phrases I use myself when I see a patient. And without sounding like a super human, I rarely get complaints. It is just the opposite. People are happy after they have seen me.

And before you tell me that there is no time to explain everything to the patient I will say that it takes no extra time. You can use the time when you have your fingers inside the patient’s mouth. Don’t wait until you are finished with the treatment. You chit-chatting might even relax the patient!

Ok here we go and remember these are just examples and you can easily create your own phrases for every situation.

The phrases need to cover:

Post-operative pain/sensitivity/bleeding and instructions

“The gums might feel tender afterwards and it is ok to take a painkiller for them. But do not take aspirin because it might make the gums bleed.”

“Sometimes the teeth get sensitive after scaling which normally will pass very soon. If prolonged it is advised to use a sensitive toothpaste.” 

“Some stains cannot be removed by scale and polish. They are in the deep grooves or inside the enamel or between the filling and a tooth and only replacing the filling will help.”

“The teeth will feel very different afterwards as the tongue has got used to the tartar. You will feel the gaps between the teeth.”

Looks and the feel of the new filling

“You might have sensitivity after new white filling and in the worst case the sensitivity can last for months but it should gradually get less and less. If not, you need to come back to have it checked. And if the pain gets worse you need to come back straight away.”

“The filling is never the same as your natural tooth (so you should think twice next time before you snack between the meals and neglect the teeth… )”

The list of these phrases is endless.

And the most important thing is to remember to write down every advice and information you have given so that it can be easily checked what the patient was told if they complain. In this digital age it is a matter of copy-paste if you have created templates on you computer.

Tell What You Do

It takes no extra effort to babble while you are treating the patient. Of course some people won’t like us talking while we treat them but telling the basic stuff is normally ok. This means very simply informing the patient what you are going to do next.

“I’m going to tilt the seat back…”

“I will rinse now..”

“I will use a drill next. There will be water and you will feel vibration…”

I hear it numerous times per week that the patient felt it was good that I told everything I did. I think it is only respectful thing to do. After all patients come to see us, trust their health in our hands and pay our wages.

There. Now go on and try these advises out! I’m sure you won’t regret it.