It still surprises me when someone new comes to see me for an examination or consultation at my Edinburgh Dental Practice how often they start our conversation by apologising for the “state” of their teeth or for not having attended a dentist within the last 6 months, year or even longer. What’s even more surprising is that people who are anxious or scared are often the most apologetic. The tone of these chats also makes me believe past experience, the advice of friends or something else has led these people to believe that they are somehow going to be “judged” by the dentist when they do attend. Or reprimanded for the condition of their mouth and teeth.
If I had a bad experience and was as a result scared of the dentist it would make me want to avoid repeating the process. It is a natural instinct and genuinely nothing that you should feel the need to apologise for. Humans have finely tuned mechanisms to deal with stress or past unpleasant experiences. And one of the foremost mechanisms is learning to avoid situations that have not gone well in the past. For example, how many times did you as a child touch something that you were told was hot and would burn your fingers? ….not more than once or twice I bet…… Exactly, this is classic self preservation / learning in action.
So I can understand why people feel this way about their dental anxiety. Often their friends or family are able to attend for dental care. So the anxious or phobic person can often feel that somehow their fear is something they should just be able to “get over”. When they struggle to do so they feel ashamed and often assume that as time goes by their teeth have to be deteriorating. (An Interesting side note here is that in my experience many anxious patients look after their teeth extremely well to “compensate” for not attending the dentist and often have very healthy mouths.)
I’d suggest instead that anyone who has managed to overcome their dental fear and make that all important first contact with a dental practice deserves congratulations for overcoming their “natural” resistance to do so. What’s more at that first visit, maybe it’s the dentist who should be apologising to you on behalf of our profession for making you scared or anxious in the first place!
Just a thought
Have a great week
Happy New Year! May 2011 bring you plenty of smiles and only pleasant dental experiences.
Whether this is the effect of so called “austerity” Britain or just a realisation that on planet earth we need to conserve our resources, it seems that many people are looking to achieve more with fewer resources in all areas of their lives and dentistry appears to be no exception.
In the heyday of full on cosmetics as typified by extreme type makeover programmes, we saw porcelain veneers and crowns being fitted like they were going out of fashion. If the teeth were not in the right position, then porcelain (from which these items are usually made) could sort the proble
m out. The only down side is that whenever you prepare a tooth for a crown or prepare it heavily for a veneer then you run a risk of killing the nerve inside the tooth. Depending on whose research you believe between 5 and 15% of all teeth prepared this way will eventually die. So it is little wonder that more and more patients and dentists have been asking what the alternatives to crowns or porcelain veneers are.
In situations where teeth are a long way out of position more patients are tending to align the teeth first to improve their overall position before they have the final veneers or bonds placed. This in turn reduces how much tooth needs to be removed. Though it may add 12-18 weeks to treatment time, is this really an issue when you are looking fro results to last for years and years?
As 2010 draws to a very cold and snowy close I have been reflecting on the last 12 months and realised that there many, many things to be thankful for. I am indebted to my supportive family and great kids who make every day a joy, without doubt they are responsible for a lot of the high points and were invariably supportive and understanding when I experienced the odd low point too. I am grateful to the many patients who have taken the leap of faith and entrusted their dental care to our dental practice in Edinburgh. It has been my privilege to watch most of my new patients transition from terrified newcomers to become confident and happy people who enjoy coming to see us. Without doubt the team of committed and talented professionals that I work with should take the majority of the credit for this.
So how will you remember 2010 and can I help you to make 2011 the year where you finally beat your dental fear?
I set up this blog to help encourage people who currently are too scared of the dentist to reach out and take the first step towards beating their dental fear. To some extent it has worked and we have many success stories already but I would love to do more. So I have a Christmas favour to ask?
Please let me know how we can be more helpful in 2011 ?
What could this blog do to help you move forwards and beat your dental fear?
And finally if you have taken our 7 Day Beat Your Fear e-course please let me know what worked and what didn’t. Good or bad I really would love to know.
So until next year I wish you a Peaceful and Happy Christmas
With all good wishes
I have just returned from a very enjoyable day at a conference focusing on the concept of Bio-aesthetic dentistry. This is the complicated way of describing what we aim for at my dental practice in Edinburgh namely improving the lives and smiles of our patients without aggressive drilling away of otherwise healthy teeth. It was also reassuring to find a room full of people that feel the same way . As part of the day I was reminded of a very powerful 60 second video by the manufacturers of the Dove range of soaps and cosmetics, that I first saw a few years ago. I think it is as powerful today as when it was released in 2005. Take a look and see what you think…..
It serves as a timely reminder that in the field of cosmetic dentistry, aesthetic dentistry or whatever you actually want to call the process of enhancing and improving a smile that we need to keep our aims grounded in reality. More importantly it reminds us that almost every cover shot that we see on glossy magazines has been digitally manipulated in some way so these highly altered images are not the best benchmark by which to judge any part of ourselves. Don’t get me wrong I think that enhancing any aspect of ones self or situation with which we are unhappy can be a positive and life affirming thing to do, be it eating healthily, a new hairstyle, drinking less alcohol, exercising more or indeed improving a smile. I simply believe that chasing a false image of perfection may not be route to happiness.
So if we want to improve our smile ( which is really the only area where I feel qualified to comment ) what can we learn from this? I can only speak for myself but, for me the answer is that the medias portrayal of perfection can be an illusion and I think it highlights the importance of realising that any cosmetic treatment is done for ourselves and not for others. If you start from this point your chances of having a great outcome that you love is greatly enhanced.
What do you think?
A smile makeover can mean many things to many people from changing just a single tooth to changing them all. Most patients that come to see me have an idea in their head of what they wish. I am often asked for a specific treatment for example Teeth Whitening, Inman Aligner, 6 Month Smiles or Porcelain veneers. These requests are very often the result of hours of web based research. As a dentist I am always pleased to find that my patients already know a lot about the treatments that they are looking for as this is a great way to move towards a situation where you can make a really well informed choice of the right treatment for your mouth.
So to get the best out of any cosmetic treatment a great tip is to begin with the end in mind. By being clear about what you really want to change you can aim to have the least amount of treatment to achieve your goals.
Here are just a few questions that might help……
- What do you notice most about your smile good and bad – tells us what things we need to preserve
- When are you most aware of these features – can shed light on hidden problems that only show eg in photos
- If you could change just one thing what would it be – helps us to prioritise
Here are 3 more questions that I am always keen to hear my patients views on
- How do you feel about the colour of your teeth
- How do you feel about the shape of your teeth
- How do you feel about the position of your teeth
I was chatting with my wife after work yesterday and we got talking about what can make someone feel anxious about a dental visit or treatment We have both worked in Dentistry for more years than we care to count and interestingly we both identified one of the major causes of anxiety being what people had “heard from a friend” or what they have read about a specific treatment.
I guess this is a common way to form opinions and judgements. We almost all subscribe to this approach in some aspect of our lives yet it does not a particularly balanced, scientific or for that matter accurate way of doing things. For patients who suffer from dental fear or phobia in particular approach to forming opinions and judgements, while very natural, can be less than helpful.
The way that we process information to make it useful to us ( in theory ) is based on a mixture of what we see, hear and read which is then filtered by our underlying beliefs. Now those of you patient ( and kind ) enough to read my musings on all things dental will know that I frequently describe our subconscious as having 2 voices. One is the voice of doom that tells us that everything will go wrong with our treatment and “it” ( whatever “it” is ) will be a dreadful experience. The other voice is our rational one that reassures us that everything will be ok and that if we choose the right people to help us with our dental fear and phobia everything will be fine. This is true even if it is our own personal experiences in the past that are forming our opinions and views today, the key here is finding someone who really is interested in helping you.
So here is my question for you if we want to beat dental fear which of our two voices should we feed the most, the positive reassuring one or the negative one?
There are lost of places on the web where you can hear reassuring stories that affirm the positive reality; that modern dental care can be comfortable, informed, relaxed, and pain free. Dental Fear Central is just one great example. Whats more there a whole group of people ( like the team at our Edinburgh Dental Practice pictured to the right) who are happy to have a chat by phone or e-mail long before you ever have to actually visit to talk through your fears and concerns.
Talking to enthusiastic professionals and finding positive examples of detal care will not solve dental fear entirely but if you want to change the way that you feel, they can help you to make a start, and in truth the hardest step is always the first.
So if you have a fear that is stopping you taking that first step why not take positive action and make contact with someone who can help to feed the positive voice that tells you that you can beat your dental fear. If we can help in any way just let us know…..
Have a great week!
Beating your dental fear or phobia does not need to be a lonely experience, there are lost of resources out there on the internet to help. Here are just a few that my patients have found to be very helpful.
DentalfearCentral.org -a great resource complete with a forum where users can share their experiences and encourage each other
Find out how Panic Disorder works and what to do about it. If you have ever had that overwhelming feeling of panic as part of your dental fear / phobia this is another great resource.
Try our 7 day beat your dental fear e – course- 7 small steps to help get you in the right frame of mind to make contact with a new dentist
If you know of a great resource on the web to help with dental fear or phobia why not let me know and I can share it with all of our readers.
There is a new idea catching hold in main stream cosmetic dentistry and to be honest, it is a change that is long overdue. In my career to date as a preventive dentist and a cosmetic dentist I regularly have had to balance my patients desire for a lovely smile versus my own personal view that we should always treat healthy tooth tissue as precious. For more than 15 years the team at Craigentinny have taken the view that that we should avoid drilling away tooth if at all possible. As a result I have on many occasions declined to carry out treatment that patients have requested when it would involve grinding away significant quantities of a tooth and lead to what I believe is long term damage or complications.
With the holiday season upon us, we always find a surge in patients asking us about teeth whitening at Craigentinny Dental Care. So here is the low down on one of the most straightforwards cosmetic dental procedures.
With many millions of tooth whitening procedures having been carried out by dentists worldwide we can say with some confidence that it is simple, safe and fast. With take home whitening or 1 hour whitening to choose from here are a few things that you should know.
1 Hour Teeth whitening
1 Hour tooth whitening works wonders to kick start the process, but unless you follow up with at home whitening trays it is highly likely that the results will not be as long lasting as you might wish. All tooth whitening dehydrates teeth which is why they look so much better immediately after treatment yet many patients report a bit of a fade back in the two weeks afterwards. Particularly if the 1 hour treatment is not followed up. See some examples of tooth whitening at our dental practice in Edinburgh.
Take Home Teeth Whitening
The at home systems where you wear custom made tooth whitening trays overnight are in many ways the most effective and kindest to your teeth as they use lower concentrations of gel to achieve the necessary results. For the very best results with this system you need really well mad and snugly fitting bleaching trays.
How long does it last?
On average tooth whitening, when done well, is believed to take around 7 years on average to relapse back to where it came from. Obviously there will be quite a bit of variation depending on your diet and tooth cleaning habits. It is usually possible to maintain your final results with a simple touch up for 1 or 2 nights per year using at home whitening trays. At my dental practice in Edinburgh we offer this service free of charge to patients who become members of the practice.
Is Teeth Bleaching Safe?
In the right hands yes it is. Naturally we hope that you will chose our Dental Practice in Edinburgh for this treatment but if you are further afield bear in mind that only dentists are legally permitted to carry out dentistry – of which tooth whitening is part. Teeth whitening by a dentist is safe and effective. Since a mistake in treatment can cost a dentist their livelihood, we tend to take the process seriously. This means using materials from reliable, traceable sources, having great infection control procedures (and believe me this is much much more than just wearing gloves), as well as insurance to protect you in the unlikely situation that a problem does occur. Tooth whitening in any other location is a riskier endeavour especially if you do experience problems during or after treatment.
Enjoy the summer months and whiten with care!
I speak to lots of nervous patients every week, and one question that often comes up is “can’t you just knock me out for my treatment?” I guess what I am really being asked is what can you do for me that will reduce my level of consciousness such that I don’t know anything about what is going on. In days gone by a general anesthetic was the standard approach but in these more enlightened times most of patients would rather avoid this whenever possible. This leaves us with sedation.
Dental Sedation can be done with a small injection in the back of the hand ( called IV Sedation ) or using a gas called Nitrous Oxide ( often called RA sedation). Clearly for anyone with a needle phobia the IV option already sounds challenging! Either way the aim is that you remain conscious throughout treatment but at such a low level that you will not be hugely aware of what is going on and preferably remember very little or none of it when you recover.
A second issue which is really the most significant one for me, is that should you be unfortunate to experience toothache, and it does happen to the vast majority of the population at some time in their life, you cannot always guarantee the availability of a sedation service.
Generally dentists who provide sedation have had additional training as have the dental nurses who support them, so you simply cannot arrive to see any dentist and be guaranteed sedation. Even if a practice does offer sedation, there may be issues if the right combination of staff are not on duty that day. This then leaves you with a terrible dilemma of living with the problem or facing your fears head on in a crisis situation. Neither option is a good one and likely to help you in your quest to feel more relaxed about dentistry.
For these reasons, I feel that the best approach for the majority of patients is to address their fears slowly and gradually with a caring and sympathetic dentist and nurse who have a genuine interest in helping them. This way we can treat your dental fear as well as treating your dental problems. In time most patients find that this approach leads to a reduction in their anxiety levels and they are more able to cope with routine care.
A typical example that I often hear from patients who come to our dental practice in Edinburgh is “I used to take a whole day off work when I came to the dentist even if it was just for a very short visit but now I just come along before or after work .”
I know that the non sedation route is not the fastest but in terms of treating dental fear in Edinburgh it has proved to be very effective for our patients in the long term. Let me know your thoughs on this……..