It is no secret that most people (either overtly or secretly) dread that visit to the dentist.
In recent years, popular culture has depicted the dental visit as a horrible and very painful experience. The result has been that more people are now staying away from the dentist.
Words like “extraction” or “root canal treatment” inspire a deep sense of fear in most people. In my years of clinical practice, I have discovered that more and more patients are now staying away from the dentist up to a point where they can no longer postpone the inevitable.
The good news is, dentistry is a constantly evolving field and new innovations have made the experience at the dentist’s more bearable. The anaesthetic solutions (numbing medications) currently in use are more potent and with advanced techniques, the dentist should be able to carry out the required procedures (even root canal treatment!) without any discomfort. I have found that we can now perform our procedures while the patient rests easy. In fact I have had experiences where patients fall asleep (without any administration of sleep inducing medication) in the middle of my afternoon root canal treatments. Although this was a distraction, inwardly I was pleasantly satisfied that my patient was comfortable throughout what most people consider a painful experience.
Work with your dentist. If he/she is in the middle of the procedure and you don’t feel okay or fully numbed, do not let them continue regardless. Let them know. We as dentists should pause and address the concern before continuing.
As a patient, understand that the treatment should be carried out purely on your terms.
I have always told my apprehensive patients that even though the shot of anesthesia might “hurt a little”, nothing any dentist does can ever be even remotely comparable to a painful throbbing toothache at 2:00 am in the morning. Focusing on the bigger picture always helps.
It goes without saying that as human beings we have varying pain thresholds. However the drive to get better should always supersede any fears and uncertainties we may have.
In the words of James Neil Hollingsworth
“Courage is not the absence of fear, rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear”.