Dr. McGann explains how and why dental sealants work in this informative video. Check it out!
Throughout my years of practice I’ve always had the mindset of constant improvement: learning new procedures, improving on the procedures I already perform, adding new technology when it can improve outcomes, and many other avenues. While all of these are important to help achieve better clinical results, perhaps the most important skill I can seek to master is my ability to communicate with and understand my patients.
The fact that there’s still a great many people who have dental fear and anxiety is not going to surprise anybody. Everybody who sits in my chair has had a dental experience before (well, almost everyone), which means they also have feelings about it; good, bad or otherwise. Throughout my years of listening to what my patients liked and didn’t like I’ve been able to identify what I believe are the three main causes of dental fear and anxiety. If dental anxiety is something you’ve ever experienced, I encourage you to read on and see if any of these resonate. I’ll start with the third-most common.
Fear number three: Financial cost
I’m going to come right out and say it: dentistry can be expensive. And unless you just won the lottery, we know that the financial considerations of getting your dental work done will play a role in the treatment planning. I encourage you to check out our page on affordability where I outline the various services, discounts, and financing options we offer to make your dental care more manageable.
Beyond the immediate financial concerns of dental care there is another money-related concern many patients have; it’s what I call the “doctor-knows-best” experience, and it’s even more insidious and disconcerting. I can’t tell you how many times a patient has told me about an experience where their dentist said something like: “This tooth needs a crown, let’s get it scheduled in two weeks. See you soon!” And that represents the beginning, middle and end of the conversation. What the patient hears is “I don’t care about your thoughts on the matter” and “I just want to do the most expensive treatment.” While that approach may have been the norm for previous generations, today it’s as archaic as wooden dentures. It blocks communication and erodes trust, the two most important pieces of the dentist-patient relationship.
Our treatment plans are not a one-way communication, they are a discussion about what is right and what is recommended for treatment. They are a discussion of options, with nothing absolute, only the pros and cons of each choice. And there is one choice that is always an option but rarely mentioned, the choice of doing nothing. You are the final decision maker for your dental care, our job is to present findings, have a discussion on what is going on, make recommendations for treatment, and present the pros and cons of each choice. We will never presume to know what’s best for you and make your treatment decisions for you. In fact, I only want to proceed with treatment when you fully understand why we’re doing it and you request that it be done.
Money is a difficult topic to discuss. Trust us to walk you through the process in an understanding and professional manner. Coming up next: the number two dental fear. You may be surprised it’s not number one!
I’m guessing there’s a number of people out there who would love the chance to stick a needle in their dentist instead of the other way around. “I just hope he knows what it feels like so he can be extra careful with me” is probably the feeling they have.
While you may never get the opportunity to do so, plenty of other people do. About once a month I need to submit a blood sample for the management of my Graves’ disease, a condition where the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. I have definitely come to appreciate the skill and compassion of an experienced phlebotomist (blood-draw person).
On the other hand, I’ve had some experiences with an uncaring and inattentive provider that left my arm bruised and sore all day long. Admittedly, managing Graves’ disease isn’t fun, but it’s relatively easy when compared to the management of other more serious medical conditions. I’m not going to complain.
On the contrary, I’ve actually realized a silver lining through the whole process. Once a month I get a reminder of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a needle; a reinforcement of the importance of compassion, awareness, and empathy with what my patients are experiencing. I’m hoping one day I can get my patients numb without a needle, but until then I will do my best to make it as comfortable as possible, as I hope others would do for me.
There’s an urban legend out there that claims a frog placed in a pan of boiling water will quickly jump out, while a frog placed in a pan of room-temperature water, with the heat then slowly increased, will just sit there until cooked.
While I have my doubts as to the scientific accuracy of this claim, it serves a useful analogy to your teeth. No, I’m not kidding. The key is the difference between an acute attack on a tooth and a chronic attack. An example of an acute attack would be a large piece suddenly breaking off. One second everything’s fine, the next second your tooth is screaming “Ahhhhhh! Fix me!”
On the other hand, an example of a chronic attack would be a slow-growing cavity; this type of attack is sneaky and most often painless, sometimes even when the cavity gets into the nerve and kills it. This happens because the body has a remarkable ability to adapt and avoid pain, for better or worse. The difficulty is that many people believe if something doesn’t hurt it must be OK; unfortunately most dental issues are painless until it’s too late, and then the cost to fix it will typically go up by a factor of ten.
The old medical axiom “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is particularly appropriate to your dental health, and this is the basis of our philosophy of care at McGann Family Dental.