Jordana awakened by tooth ache and the thought of going to the dentist intensified the pain even more as she thought to herself “me nuh like dentist! Her thoughts echoed that of many persons whenever the topic of oral health is brought up. A visit to the dentist is high on the fear factor scale for most persons and Jordana, having never visited to the dentist, had only heard of her Cousin John, who claimed he had a bad experience, and feared the sight the of the dental chair. So like Jordana, persons become fearful and avoid as much as possible visiting the dentist. Over the years fear of” the Dentist “has been passed on from generation to generation, a major factor being fear of the unknown, lack of information on dental care and procedures.
As a result of this fear, persons avoid visiting the dentist as regularly as they should and so when they do attend, it may be for a toothache or swelling and this scenario almost never ends well as the patient is traumatized from the pain and due to the extent of the problem this may result in loss of the tooth. Persons also avoid going for regular cleanings, and when asked why they express that it is an uncomfortable procedure and their mouths bleed. This scenario is very common, as patients who avoid regular dental checkup may develop severe gingivitis which is an inflammation of the gums due to plaque and tartar buildup and when the teeth are being cleaned this inflammation causes discomfort and bleeding. The solution to this is regular checkups and cleanings at least twice a year and the result will be a more pleasant experience.
Times and technology have changed and visiting the dentist has become a more pleasant and tolerable experience. Our equipment is more patient friendly, the sounds of “ the drill” not so frightening, and patients are now being informed about their procedures, including any complications which often allow them to relax and be comfortable. There is also more emphasis on saving teeth, verses removing them. Many offices now have patients indicate if they are afraid of the dentist and if so they approach the treatment of the patient with that in mind. Waiting rooms now provide a more relaxed atmosphere and the staff is encouraged to reassure patients regarding their treatment
Introducing kids to the dentist as early as 3 years for a checkup and cleaning allows them to become familiar with the dental environment instead of their first visit being a traumatic toothache. Bringing them along when an older sibling is being seen also helps to remove any fear associated with the dentist as they tend to model older siblings. We encourage parents despite their fear of the dentist not to pass it on to children but to make going to the dentist a big event, building up to the visit and hence allowing them to be excited and willing.
Certain medical conditions may be detected in a regular visit e.g. diabetes and this results in early intervention and treatment. There have also been studies that there is an association with severe forms of gingivitis and heart disease as well as in pregnancy it may cause premature labour and low birth weight in babies, with regular checkups these conditions can be avoided.
Biannual visits to the dentist are an essential part of taking care of your overall health. The more often you visit, the easier it will get, it will save you money as early detection of cavities and other problems cost less than advance dental treatment. The overall result is a more confident and comfortable you with a beautiful smile.