It’s time to schedule that visit to the dentist. Whether you’ve been putting it off for months or years, it’s time to pick up the phone. It’s not as scary as you remember. Really. And the longer you put that visit off, the more extensive the care you need will become.
Visiting the dentist can actually be a pleasurable experience, provided you find a dentist you can connect with. Following are some tips from your Michigan Dental Association dentist to help make your next visit as stress free as possible.
- Step One -Schedule your visit for the time of day when you’re most likely to be at your best. There’s nothing worse than going into a situation when you’re already stressed.
- Step Two -Wrestle with those internal demons to discover the cause of your anxiety. Once you know why you’re scared, it will be easier to control your fear.
- Step Three -To maximize your comfort level, get a good night’s sleep the night before your appointment, eat a light breakfast the morning of, and wear comfortable clothing.
- Step Four -Talk to your dentist and dental hygienist. Tell them what makes you nervous and what concerns you. More often than you might think, simply talking about your fears can help alleviate them and make you feel more comfortable about the situation.
- Internal Note -When your anxiety reaches up to grab you by the throat, remember that most regular dental visits involve only a professional cleaning, examination and consultation. In other words, there won’t be any drilling. Take advantage of this time to get to know the dental staff and become comfortable in the office.
- Step Five -Keep the dialog going. If your doctor says you need further treatment, ask for the details. The more you know about the reasons for a certain procedure and what will actually take place, the more confident and relaxed you’ll be.
- Step Six -Schedule short dental appointments and have different procedures performed on different days. If you feel any discomfort during treatment set up a signal, such as raising your hand, to let your dentist know you need a break.
- Step Seven -Work to establish a positive dentist-patient relationship. You should feel at ease and comfortable with your dentist. Take an active role in your dental care, and determine, along with your dentist, the best treatment for you.
Follow these pointers and that fear you’ve always had will prove to be no more real than the monsters that hid under your bed when you were a child. Smile on, and enjoy your happy, healthy smile.
In most cases, you only get X-rays when something hurts – like when you’ve sprained or broken something. So why does your dentist take X-rays when there’s nothing visibly wrong?
Basically, it’s because there are lots of things that can go wrong in your mouth in spaces your dentist just can’t see. Your dentist uses X-rays to get a detailed picture of the condition of your teeth, jaw, facial bones and the roots of your teeth.
With the help of x-rays, your dentist can often find and treat problems before they become serious, which ultimately saves you time and money. Some of the conditions your dentist can only see with the help of X-rays are:
- small cavities between the teeth;
- periodontal disease;
- impacted teeth;
- infections in the bone;
- developmental abnormalities; and
- certain growths, such as tumors and cysts.
Your dentist will set up a customized X-ray schedule for you using professional guidelines designed to keep your overall health in mind and based on your individual needs. A variety of factors including your age, risk for disease and signs and symptoms will also be taken into account. Children generally need more X-ray exams than adults because their teeth and jaws are still developing and because they’re more likely to fall victim to tooth decay.
As you probably know, dental X-rays involve a very low dose of radiation. This tiny dose of radiation is nothing for you to worry about, but your dentist takes special precautions to eliminate any safety risks. That’s why your dentist covers you with a lead apron. She also uses high-speed film with equipment that restricts the beam to a specific area of the body, and even so, limits exposure. She also processes the film according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
Wondering why your dentist leaves the room every time she takes X-rays? Basically it’s because if she didn’t, she’d be exposed to radiation several times every day. Over a long period of time, this would result in an unnecessary dose of radiation of no benefit to her.
If you still have unanswered questions about X-ray exams, be sure to ask your Michigan Dental Association dentist during your next visit. In the meantime, though, rest assured that everything she does is to protect the long-term health and safety of your beautiful smile.
It is very common for me to see individuals or families with a lot of dental decay who are very surprised because they routinely eat a very “healthy” diet (yogurt, granola, juice, raisins, etc.). It is important to understand the way decay works to avoid the misconception that decay is simply the result of eating “junk” foods (like pop, candy, cookies, ice cream, etc.). Both “healthy” and “junk” foods can be harmful to teeth if they contain either sugar or acid. Eating healthy foods is certainly preferable in general to eating junk foods. But when it comes to decay, any sipping, sucking, or nibbling habits between meals involving sugar or acid containing foods is a sure recipe for problems. Ask us about our handout describing safer and less safe snacks and a smarter strategy for between meal habits.
Many patients ask me why I shake their cheek when giving anesthetic, commenting that they’ve never had that done before. They often assume it is just a distraction, but there’s more to it than that. Your body has about twenty different types of nerve endings that all send messages to your brain. However, the most common receptors are heat, cold, pain, and pressure or touch receptors.
All nerve endings send potentially important information to your brain, but not all messages from nerve endings are given equal priority. Because the many different types of nerve endings all have to send their messages to the brain through shared nerve bundles it is sometimes possible for the amount of information being transmitted to exceed capacity—and some information gets left out. The nerve endings that transfer information about pressure and movement tend to get top priority, while the nerve endings that transfer information about pain have a lower priority. By “jamming the lines” with lots of information about pressure and movement (by squeezing and shaking the cheek) it is possible to reduce or eliminate the pain signals (from an injection) that the brain receives. That’s why I squeeze and shake your cheek when giving an injection—so that your brain will receive reduced input about pain. You probably have unwittingly used this pain reduction method on your self in the past. If you hit your thumb with a hammer, you tend to vigorously shake it—because it seems to hurt less when you do that. If you stub your toe, you tend to grab the toe and tightly squeeze it—because it seems to hurt less when you do that. The neuroscience that you naturally use without realizing it, we consciously apply to improve your dental experience. Of course, there are many other things we do that also work to reduce your discomfort during the administering of anesthesia. We offer nitrous oxide (relaxing) gas, place a potent topical anesthetic gel beforehand to numb the tissues, and use pre-warmed carpules of anesthetic.
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