It’s safe to say that very few people look forward to their dental appointments. Something about baring your open mouth for others to poke around with pointed metal objects is just counter-intuitive.
You can’t see what’s happening in there; you have no idea what the dentist is going to find; and you probably have the expectation that something painful could happen!
There is something very universal about aversion to dental appointments. We get it. But we also know, and you also know, that they are a necessary part of keeping your teeth healthy and free from decay.
So how can you combat this instinctive response that’s common to children and adults alike? Our approach to this conundrum: knowledge is power. If you know what’s going to happen, and you know what your hygienist and dentist are going to be doing, the fear of the unknown tends to be drastically reduced.
Knowing What to Expect at a Dental Visit
For a routine dental appointment, there are five things you can expect to happen:
- Teeth Cleaning: No matter how good your home-based oral hygiene is, dental cleanings are always needed to remove tartar from the teeth. There are simply too many little places for plaque and bacteria to hide in the average mouth, and tartar (hardened plaque) leads to cavities. By removing it, we prevent cavities from forming on your teeth.
- Oral Examination: Not only do we check your teeth for cavities and soft spots that may become cavities, but we also take a close look at your gums and other soft tissues. Oral cancer screening is a part of this exam, so please let us know if you have any mysterious lumps or spots in your mouth or throat we should notice.
- Preventive Treatments: Whenever we find those soft spots of demineralized enamel, we apply fluoride gel to help strengthen to tooth and prevent a cavity. Both children and adults can benefit from fluoride treatments, and sealants can also be applied to prevent bacteria from lodging in the deep cracks and crevices of the molars.
- Patient Communication: You should always expect to be asked about your hygiene habits: how often you floss and brush your teeth, etc. The purpose of this isn’t to shame you if your hygiene isn’t ideal, but to help you come up with strategies that may be able to get you back on track. We have a lot of information on advanced tools and techniques that help people maintain good oral hygiene.
- Overall Health Check-in: We always like to find out if there are any new health concerns in your life because many medical conditions can have a dramatic effect on the health of your teeth and gums. Pregnancy, new medications, hormonal changes, diabetes, heart disease, thyroid issues–these can affect your body’s ability to protect your teeth and gums from bacteria. If we know what’s going on with you, we can help you prevent negative effects to your oral health.
Helping Your Child Be Prepared for a Dental Appointment
The drive to a dentist’s office is often a good time to go over what happens at a dental visit with your kids. Even if they have heard the information before, a brief reminder just before the visit can have a calming effect.
Using simple, straightforward language is always best with kids. Before the appointment, remind your child that the dentist and hygienist will:
- look at your teeth, to search for cavities
- clean your teeth with special tools and brushes
- apply a special gel or sealant to protect your teeth and prevent cavities from happening
For restorative appointments for children, there may be a heightened level of fear. All kids know that cavities are a bad thing and that fact, alone, can make anxiety worse. Explaining why they have a cavity and how it will get fixed can help them feel more empowered and brave.
We like to explain fillings in the following way:
- Sugar bugs have made a small hole in your tooth.
- We want to make the tooth healthy again.
- We are going to fix this hole, by filling it in so it doesn’t get bigger and cause a toothache.
Children are frequently afraid of pain, especially if they are getting fillings. Remind your child that the dentist does not want them to feel any pain, so they should let us know if something hurts them, so we can make it stop!
Tell Us How You’re Feeling
As care providers, we are often reactive. Unless we see a patient is in obvious stress due to dental anxiety we don’t always give you a play-by-play of every detail of the dental visit. (There are plenty of patients who don’t want to know what’s going on in there, as well, as odd as that may sound to some of us.)
At Metropolitan Dental Care, we always want to know how you are feeling before and during your dental appointment. Don’t be afraid to tell us if you are feeling anxious. We will always take the time to discuss our treatments with you and will never proceed until you are comfortable and ready!
If you are ready for a no-fear dental appointment, call Metropolitan Dental Care at 303-534-2626 for a dental visit at either our Denver or Lone Tree, CO dental office.