Start reaping the most out of your time spent in a dental office. Let’s have a look at some common questions we’ve all had, but haven’t always felt comfortable asking.
1. I’m scared every time I walk in here. Can you help me with this issue?
Always feel free to express your emotions when it comes to dental treatment. There is no shame and you don’t have to suffer in silence. If you are nervous and nauseous before every dental appointment, you might like to know that you are not alone! Statistics have shown that over 75% of adults experience dental anxiety or fear. Of those, 5-10% experience a fear so profound that it’s classified as “dental phobia”. This fear is so serious that it prevents a person from visiting the dentist at all, and therefore has the potential to cause serious damage to oral health.
Tell your dentist about your fears and concerns, and find a solution together. Sometimes simple guidance throughout the treatment – with your dentist explaining exactly what will happen during the treatment and what sensations you can expect – can do miracles, as many of us are afraid simply because we don’t know exactly what’s being done, and how it might feel. If this doesn’t help, your dentist may recommend that you make an appointment with a psychologist or psychiatrist in order to conquer this fear long-term via therapy. Also, a good oral-care routine will help you become more confident about your visits: clean teeth don’t decay, so there is a significantly higher chance that each routine check-up will be followed by just another routine check-up, and not by drilling or any other unpleasant procedures.
2. Do I need to change or improve my oral hygiene, and how can I do this? What products do you recommend?
If you are wondering whether your current level of oral hygiene is sufficient, feel free to ask your dental professional. They can directly check the cleanliness and status of your teeth, gums and also your tongue, and will be happy to advise you on the most effective brushing techniques and the best products for oral hygiene according to your individual needs.
The basic set of tools for everyday oral hygiene is a soft toothbrush, properly sized interdental brush and gentle toothpaste. A tongue scraper is also a useful additional tool, and sometimes dental floss is needed in additional to interdental brushes. If you are not familiar with interdental brushes, the dental office is the place for you to learn more about them, and also to get your interdental spaces precisely measured so as to ensure you’ll be using the most suitable and effective sizes of brushes.
Interdental spaces are often forgotten, yet they are one of the most important areas to keep clean. Interdental cleaning is probably the first area where you can enhance your oral care routine. These tiny spaces between the teeth are heaven for bacteria, as it’s so easy for them to settle, set up colonies and build-up – especially if you never brush there.
If you would like to learn the proper technique of brushing, interdental brushing, and other general tips for oral hygiene, it’s a great idea to book an appointment with a dental hygienist that’s specifically aimed at the practice of your daily oral care. At first it may seem a bit complex, but don’t worry. If you create a habit over a couple of weeks, it will become so easy and automated that you won’t even notice that you added one more step to your daily routine. But your teeth and gums will definitely notice and reward you with good health.
3. I noticed some unusual changes in my mouth – discolouration, pain, a sore spot or something else. Why did those occur?
Every time you notice something unusual in your mouth, it’s a good idea to inform your dental professional during your next appointment. If you feel it might be something more serious or you are just not sure, it is advisable to reach out to your dental professional and consult this issue by phone, rather than wait until your next appointment. Your dental professional with assess the risk and either invite you to an earlier appointment, or advise you on what else you can do.
Usually, these sorts of issues are just temporary and can be solved in a few days or weeks with basic remedies. But sometimes they can be a sign of a more serious illness, so it is always worth getting it checked out – and the earlier the better. Early diagnosis increases the chances of successful treatment of any serious condition, including those that may manifest in the mouth – like diabetes, oral cancer, circulatory issues, immunity problems and others.
4. Is it okay if there is blood when I brush my teeth? What does it mean, and how can I prevent this?
Sometimes there is a bit of blood when we clean our teeth, and that happens to all of us. This can be caused by things like accidentally poking your gum, or having irritated your gums with something sharp or crispy when eating. Usually, this blood is lighter and the bleeding stops almost immediately. According to the majority of dental professionals, it is important to choose soft and gentle products for cleaning your teeth, and to practice a gentle technique of cleaning. Keep in mind that ultra-soft bristles can reach tiny spaces, where the bacteria settle, better than harder ones. You can clean teeth gently and effectively at the same time.
“Many patients with severe inflammation (periodontitis) say their gums do not bleed at home at all. This is mainly because they do not clean those areas where the inflammation is.”– Peter Kramarik, dental hygienist
If the blood occurs after any light touch, or on a frequent basis, you should definitely reach out to your dental professional. This is usually a sign of inflammation in your gums, and that is something that needs to be addressed at your dental office and treated properly. If the bleeding is overlooked for a longer period and inflamed gums are not treated, there is quite a big risk of developing gum diseases, mostly periodontitis, which can cause many more serious issues – not only in your mouth, but also for your overall health.
5. Why is it important to visit your dental office regularly? Is it really necessary even though my teeth are fine and don’t hurt at all?
The most crucial reason for regular check-ups is to discover any potential future dental health issues at the very beginning of their formation. Your dental professional will be glad to explain why this is important. Keep in mind that pain usually only occurs when an issue is ongoing, by which point a large amount of damage has often already been done.
“Periodic check-ups can be compared to the periodic servicing of your car for a hassle-free journey. Regular dental check-ups don’t only help to maintain good oral health, but also overall health.”– Dr. Manjunath P. Puranik, dentist
Many issues are not visible just by looking in the bathroom mirror, and need to be examined properly with the right equipment in a dental office. For example, periodontitis is not easily visible and does not cause any pain. This is a good example of where the saying “better safe than sorry” comes in handy. Because all the pain and health risks, not to mention the costs of repairs, are actually all quite easy to forestall by proper prevention.
See your dentist as a friend, not an enemy
Since oral health and overall health are very closely intertwined, you should put any shyness or fear aside and ask all of the questions you may have about your mouth and your oral health. The ultimate goal of your dentist is to keep your teeth safe and sound as long as possible – ideally for a lifetime.
The best way to build and maintain an open and honest relationship with your dental professional is to be honest about all your habits and possible mistakes. To establish the best kind of relationship, it is also important to visit the same dental professional for as long as possible, not to switch to a different one on every occasion. Your dental professional will be happy to advise and encourage you to change your habits for the better, and be there for you every time you need some advice or motivation. After all, the majority of dental professionals admit that the greatest joy in their work is to see their patients start to be passionate about prevention, and actively take steps to keep their teeth healthy.
Dentophobia Statistics of Dentist Fear and Anxiety
Characteristics of patients attending for cognitive behavioural therapy at one UK specialist unit for dental phobia and outcomes of treatment