Many people have anxiety about visiting the dentist, but there are many ways you can reduce the dental jitters and make your experience a positive one. The first step is to choose the right dentist. Finding someone with an office close to your home or work can be a challenge depending on where you live, but if you use the Internet to search for a dentist near your address, you at least have a good starting point.
Finding the Right Dentist
One of the best ways to find a good dentist is to ask your friends and co-workers for recommendations. There’s no way to “test drive” a dentist, but any dentist who gets glowing reviews from your friends is definitely worth checking out. Your new dentist should be approachable, friendly, and have a proven track record in the field. They should welcome conversations about your fears or anxieties in the dental chair and offer you some good advice about how to overcome them. A good dentist responds to a patient’s fear of pain or worries about how painful a procedure may be.
One thing a good dentist does to help nervous patients is to explain exactly what will happen during a routine procedure. When you know what’s about to happen and why, you’re much less prone to being scared. Fear of the unknown is a major factor in the dental jitters.
What to Expect from the Dentist
So what can you and your kids expect from a routine dental visit? Most start with a tooth exam. The dentist will check your teeth and gums and gently probe them to determine the general health of your mouth. Be sure to tell your dentist if you have any pain at all during this initial exam; it helps the dentist to better gauge the condition of your teeth and gums.
After the inspection, the dentist may perform routine x-rays to check for cavities, tooth decay or other issues. X-rays reveal what the dentist can’t see on the initial inspection. Once the x-rays are complete, your dentist will be able to diagnose and schedule you or your child for a follow-up visit, or begin a routine cleaning in the same visit. If you haven’t been to the dentist in a long time, you may need a special type of cleaning to help get rid of a lot of plaque or tartar buildup in the mouth. This may require an additional visit or a longer session. As part of your visit your dentist may also recommend that you change your brushing techniques or start flossing regularly.
Questions to Ask
Many people have questions about their oral health. If you aren’t sure about a particular issue, always ask your dentist. Some common questions include:
- How often should I brush my teeth?
- Should I floss more than once per day?
- What kind of mouthwash is best for my teeth and gums?
- What are “receding gums” and how do I prevent this from happening?
- What happens if I don’t brush my teeth every day?
A good dentist will be happy to explain all of these things and much more. Selecting the best dentist for you is often a combination of getting a good recommendation from your friends or co-workers, plus the personal chemistry between you, your kids and the new dentist. If you pick someone who works out well on the very first try, congratulations! However, don’t be afraid to move on to a new dentist if you don’t feel the relationship is working out. After all, they’re your teeth, it’s your investment and your health.