If you were to make a list of common but irrational fears, the top three might be spiders, needles, and going to the dentist. Now logically this list may not make much sense as spiders are usually harmless, needles are used to save lives, and dental care is crucial to good oral and overall health. I have heard stories of people and their experiences with dental care which lead me to believe these fears are completely rational. I have heard of dentists who do not explain the procedure and just start drilling, patients who see a new dentist for every visit, and dentists who are so focused on efficiency that the patient’s comfort is not considered. It makes sense why people may be fearful of going to a callous, cold, or inconsistent dentist. For patients who worry about poor quality dental care it is completely logical to be afraid of going to the dentist.
Conversely I enjoy going to my visits to the dentist. Instead of fear for going to the dentist, I fear missing an appointment. The only difference between the “dental-phobic” and the “dental-philic” (like me) is the experience each has as a patient. For anyone unhappy with the dental care they are receiving, I suggesting looking for a dentist with the following important qualities. Finding the right guy or gal to care for you may be a turning point in your oral health care journey.
As a patient it is absolutely imperative that you see the same doctor at every visit. Some practices will have an assortment of dentists hired on a salary basis. Seeing multiple dentists improves the chance that there is a miscommunication or error in translation between each doctor. A misunderstanding of a treatment plan can have adverse effects for a patient. In addition seeing a new doctor at every visit adds to the anxiety that a patient will feel during a visit. It is much better to develop a good relationship with a single dentist who understands your medical situation completely. I suggest either attending a practice with a single dentist or checking with a larger group to see if they rotate doctors depending on a schedule.
Almost everyone has a busy and constantly changing schedule. It can be challenging to fit a dental appointment into an already busy schedule. The challenge compounds when the dental practice does not have flexibility in scheduling. Patients at many practices are forced to set appointments many months in advance and pressured to stick to that time even when their schedule starts to fill up. It’s critical that a practice allows patients to set appointments at times that work for them. I personally struggle with this problem as I don’t often know when I will be free to go to an appointment. Offices with friendly and receptive patient coordinators can handle changes in a schedule and accomodate the needs of their patients. Look for employees who answer the phone with a kind and upbeat voice who are looking to serve you. Some offices may allow you to schedule online, or at least request appointments.
3. Pain Free
This is the issue which may be considered the most fear inducing. When a dentist performs a procedure, no discomfort or pain should be felt. There is no excuse for a dentist to continuing to perform procedures while you are in pain. While researching dental practices, check ratings and reviews of doctors at the practice to see what other patient’s experiences are. If reviews claim that the dentist works forcefully or disregards the comfort of the patient, it may be a good idea to steer clear. In addition prior to having a procedure always ask what type of anesthetic will be used. For some minor procedures some dentists will make the choice to withhold anesthetic. If you are known for having sensitivity of the teeth or would just feel more comfortable with a pain reliever be sure to ask your dentist. Most dentists have multiple forms of local anesthetic with different times of onset, and duration of action. In addition if you ever feel discomfort or need a break during a procedure make sure to let the doctor know. Kind dentists will understand your concerns and cater to your needs.
The issue of affordability is a pressing concern for many patients. Some patients who already may be afraid of going to the dentist stay away because of the financial implications. Health care in general is known for being expensive, and dental care is no exception. For many cost is a limiting factor to getting high quality oral health care. Patients unable to find a dentist who is able to accommodate their financial limitations turn to lower quality alternatives. This is not an ideal solution because of the long term impact of using a lower quality alternative. A poorly performed procedure can be ineffective, temporary, or possibly harmful to your oral health. Instead I would suggest researching financing programs available to patients at dental offices. Some dental practices have discount programs which lower the cost of procedures. Additionally many offer financing programs which allow payments to be made over a longer period of time which is less financially burdensome for patients. If you do not have health insurance the financial problems are compounded. Not only are you completely responsible for paying all bills and fees, but you are actually penalized by being charged a higher rate for procedures than insurance patients are entitled to.. If this describes your situation there is some good news you can take solace in, some practices have a policy which matches the insurance rate for procedures. If a practice has this policy you are not penalized for not having insurance. Overall I would suggesting looking for excellent care with programs that address the financial needs of the patient. If lower quality alternatives are chosen, the problems could persist costing the patient more in the long run. Those who may be afraid of going to the dentist should know this, going in for cleanings decreases the chance you will have serious dental issues which require in-depth procedure. In other words if you go to see your dentist regularly, you won’t have to have expensive and invasive procedures.
The personality of a dentist is another important characteristic to monitor. When looking for a quality dentist you should look for someone who treats patients with respect and kindness. As a patient you should feel like your dentist actually cares about you as a person and wants to give you the best oral health. It will benefit you to find a kind, personable dentist who is willing to explain procedures and give you some discretion with health choices. In addition it would be ideal to find someone who puts you at ease during procedures. I know that I personally feel much more relaxed after speaking with my dentist before he starts a procedure. I am sure I would have more anxiety before a procedure if my dentist had a cold personality. I would have a negative experience if the dentist started working before explaining the issue and his method of treatment. For someone who has a pre-existing fear of going to the dentist, these actions may scare the patient from continuing their care.
If you are worried about getting dental treatment or in general think your dental experience can improve I would suggest looking for a dental practice with some of characteristics I find important. Of course some may find other characteristics more important and instead find dental practices emphasizing other qualities, but my positive dental experiences can directly be linked to the previously mentioned qualities. I find that my dentist, Dr. David Cappuccio, fulfills the qualities I look for in a dentist and does a great job of truly caring for me. He and his team at Seneca Ridge Dental are committed to serving the needs of their patients. To anyone afraid of going to the dentist, I would say do not lose hope. Maybe you simply need a change to a dentist who will prioritize your specific needs and address your concerns with honesty and compassion.
At Seneca Ridge Dental, we believe in providing West Seneca and the surrounding Buffalo, NY area with the best possible dental care using state of the art dental technology and modern best practices.
SENECA RIDGE DENTAL
3626 Seneca St. West Seneca, NY 14224