3 Shortcuts toward a Happier Dental Experience

For many people, going to the dentist is a wearisome, time-gobbling necessity while for others it's a potentially agonizing nightmare to be avoided at all costs. Even if your dentist is the nicest human being on the planet, scheduling those visits may give you pause—and the longer you pause, the more trouble your teeth and gums can get into in the meantime. But if you must keep those dental appointments (and of course you must), here are three smart tactics you can employ to make the process faster and easier.

1. Ask for Sedation

If you suffer from any degree of dental phobia, you may well regard sedation dentistry as the greatest single advance in the history of medical science. Individuals who are prone to generalized anxiety or restlessness may even ask for sedation just to settle them down and combat the sheer boredom of a lengthy dental procedure. As long as it helps you get the care you need, don't hesitate to ask for it.

Your dentist may suggest a particular type of sedation according to your needs and the nature of the procedure. The simplest method is to administer an inhaled mix of oxygen and nitrous oxide, or "laughing gas," through a face mask before proceeding with the actual dental work. The ratio of oxygen to sedative can be finely controlled by the dentist, and the sedation dissipates before you have to drive yourself home. More powerful forms of sedation can be delivered in pills (which you take before the appointment) or even injectable medications—just make sure someone else is doing the driving in these cases!

Contrary to popular belief, sedation dentistry doesn't "knock you out." It merely places you in a trance state in which you find it pretty much impossible to worry or tense up about anything. You're still capable of understanding the dentist's instructions and answering questions as needed.

2. Investigate your Laser Options

Dental surgery is rarely on anyone's list of favorite activities, and yet it's widely prescribed for the treatment of common problems such as periodontal disease (which afflicts up to half of all adult Americans). When bacteria attacks the periodontal pockets between your teeth and gums, the pockets grow larger and the bacterial infiltration increases until you run the risk of tooth loss or an abscessed jaw. Traditional treatment for this kind of gum disease involves cutting out the diseased tissue with a scalpel and then stitching the healthy tissue back into place. Laser gum treatment makes this surgery so much easier, and healing time so much faster, that you'll never dread the procedure again. The laser vaporizes the diseased tissue, cauterizing as it goes for minimal blood loss, and results in more accurate tissue removal, less pain—and no stitches!

Laser gum treatment can also be cosmetic in nature. For instance, maybe you hate the way your gums cover up too much of your front teeth, but you've never been able to drag yourself to the dentist for a surgery known gum contouring. While cutting away part of your gums with a scalpel may sound terrifying, laser gum contouring makes the procedure a breeze by comparison, allowing for virtually pain-free treatment and speedier recovery. Learn more about this process through a website like http://www.neufamilydental.com.

3. Compress the Sessions

You may have no fear of dental procedures whatsoever -- yet you still put off having them done for months or years simply because you don't have time to schedule multiple appointments for a single procedure. But during all that time you spent avoiding the dentist, some remarkable breakthroughs have occurred that allow many procedures to be completed the same day they began. Look for a dentist that offers such timesavers as:

  • Same-day crowns—Some dental clinics are able to make digital scans of your tooth after it's been prepared to receive a permanent crown. They then create a custom design on a computer and relay that information to a machine that fabricates a perfectly-fitting crown in about one hour. This method eliminates the trial and error of taking impressions and waiting for an off-site lab to make and send the crown.
  • Single-session root canals—Root canals traditionally require two appointments, one to clean out then pulp chamber of the tooth and another to fill and seal off the pulp chamber. These days, however, many dentists are willing to perform an entire root canal in one appointment, especially if the tooth is not actively infected or causing pain. This appointment can take up to an hour and a half for a more complex case, but at least it's only one appointment to be made and kept.

One "bonus trick" for experiencing less angst in the dentist's chair actually involves going to the dentist more frequently. Keep those twice-yearly appointments for routine checkups and cleanings and you'll be less likely to need more extensive procedures. The net result is less time in the dentist's chair, less money spent, and a happier, healthier mouth!