It should all be Ahhh and not ARRGHH! when we visit tooth care professionals, says this dentist
Over the past 15 years in private dental practice, I am quite used to receiving the following greetings; “Nothing personal Doc, but I hate dentists!” or; “Doc, I hate going to the dentists!” or; “I’ve been putting off the Dentist’s visit for a long time!” Considering the fact that modern day dentistry has evolved so much from the yesteryears and that dental procedures have been refined to such standards where every possible attempt is made to make the procedures comfortable, the fears and apprehensions still remain, making the dentist’s office the world’s least most favourite work place to visit. In spite of brilliant interiors, the most comfortable and luxurious dental chairs, pleasant staff and a warm environment found in modern day dental clinics, people still dread going to the dentists and receiving procedures. The most common reasons for this are quite simple; fear and anxiety, previous bad experiences, or the spread of dental myths from friends, relatives or colleagues. The most common worries experienced by the patients include the fear of pain, needles, or anaesthesia. After that are worries about the dental drill, the potential of choking, the fear of embarrassment and concerns over future complicated procedures. Although these are not justified, it is but natural for an inexperienced patient attending the dentist for the first time, or someone traumatised by a prior bad experience, or one who has been spooked by a dental horror story related from a friend or relative, to feel apprehension.
Let’s look at the top myths about dentistry and dental procedures which seem to permanently do the rounds:
Regular check ups are not necessary, as I don’t have any pain or complaints.
You need a regular dental check up even if you are absolutely fine, because most of the time dental problems are chronic in nature and do not show any symptoms until its too late. Gum problems and cavities can be prevented by regular check-ups and cleaning procedures. Keeping a check on time will help sort out your dental problems at the beginning with simpler solutions, rather than you having to endure complicated procedures later.
Performing routine hygiene procedures results in the creation of gaps, sensitivity and bleeding gums.
By not routinely carrying out hygiene procedures on time, gaps are caused. Deposits of tartar start to push the gums down, leading to bone loss and exposure of root surfaces. The gaps are not visible because they are covered by huge tartar deposits. Bleeding gums occur because of the inflammation caused by these tartar and plaque deposits. Carrying out routine dental hygiene helps to remove these tartar deposits and reduce such gum inflammation. Gaps may well become visible after cleaning and be a bit sensitive afterwards, but this is a normal phenomenon and the sensitivity is transient and subsides in a few days time. The gums heal well after the cleaning, and return to their normal state.
Root canals are the most painful dental procedures, it is better to remove the tooth than go through a root canal.
Root canal is a procedure which helps you save your tooth and avoid an extraction. A tooth saved is always a better option than the one removed. Root canals are done under local anaesthesia, so you should not experience pain. Root canal surgery performed by well-trained hands using effective local anaesthesia is as painless as having a filling done.
Receiving dental anaesthesia involves excruciating pain.
The needle employed in the administration of dental anaesthesia is extremely fine and the method employed ensures that you should not feel any pain whatsoever. In fact, there are modern devices like ‘the wand’ which ensure that the anaesthesia delivered is done so absolutely painlessly. Commonly, the fear of the needle is more painful than the injection itself. Try to be relaxed and calm during the administration of the anaesthesia and – before you know it – it is all over and you won’t have even felt a thing!
There is no need to floss as it causes bleeding and hurts my gums.
Flossing is an absolute must. Even if you brush your teeth three times a day and are very meticulous, brushes do not reach where floss reaches. There is no brush in the world which is able to get in-between the teeth and do what floss does. It is best to use a floss at least once a day, ideally brush and floss after every meal. Flossing should be done gently and carefully so you do not traumatise the gums. Your dentist will best advice the type of floss best suited for your need and how to floss effectively.
My baby is too young to start brushing.
It is never too young to start brushing. In fact, some form of brushing and hygiene procedure should be initiated in toddlers as soon as their first tooth appears in the mouth. Even if the infant is still young, good hygiene methods should be employed to prevent decay and also to get the child into an early habit of oral care.
I am ashamed to show my teeth to the dentist and he will be shocked to see them.
Dentists are trained professionals and are not there to Judge you but to sort out your dental problems, so that you are relieved of them and can be confident and disease free. Remember, there is no need to be embarrassed to go see your dentist if you haven’t been regularly keeping a check.
I need to finish all my treatments in one visit and get it over with.
Dental problems are usually not single-sitting procedures. You need to sort your problems for good, so take your time, pace yourself and be comfortable. Have your procedures completed with a proper plan charted by your dentist. Your relaxed state of mind is very important.
Wisdom teeth should always be extracted.
Not always. All wisdom teeth do not necessarily warrant removal. Only if they are erupting in a funny direction or are causing gum problems, pain or damaging the adjacent tooth, do they need to be removed. Otherwise, they will serve and function as any other tooth in the mouth.
Eating a lot of sweets and candy causes decay.
Eating them does not cause decay, but not brushing your teeth well after eating does. Any food rich in carbohydrates can cause tooth decay if not brushed off, so it’s not just sweets or candy that can cause problems. The only way to prevent decay is to brush your teeth within half an hour of having a snack or a meal to ensure that the process isn’t initiated.
Eat smart, brush well and go for regular dental checks-ups to maintain healthy teeth and gums, which in turn will make your smile a confident and long lasting one!
Dr. Murali Srinivasan, MDS
Head, Department of Advanced
Dentistry and Implantology,
Jebel Ali Hospital,
Life Line Health Care Group.