5 Tips for a Successful Dental Visit


5 tips for caregivers and patients to increase success in the dental office.

  1. Approach the Visit With a Positive Attitude
    1. Dentistry can be fun, or at least not too bad. It all starts with attitude.
      1. Why is it that on an airline if your seat leans all the way back it is the life of luxury, but at the dentist office the same recline feels so uncomfortable? The answer isn’t expensive luxury seats on the plane… trust me… those dentist chairs cost a lot. The answer is mostly attitude.
      1. Another examples is the “Speak Out” game  from Hasbro. In this game, players literally use dental mouth retractors and try to pronounce various words. Everyone laughs and has a great time. Why does the same device in the dentist office seem so uncomfortable?  (In case you were wondering, yes… we dental professionals are great at this game.)​
    1. Fear and dislike is contagious ​​
      1. If you are afraid, or just don’t like the dentist, please don’t spread those ideas to your loved one, especially if they have a disability. Give them them the opportunity to have their own experience and form their own opinions. ​
      1. If necessary, have someone else who does enjoy the dentist accompany your loved one to the dentist. Positivity is also contagious. (Make sure you talk to the dentist ahead of time to let them know this person is going to be acting in your place and let the dentist know the extent to which this person can help with healthcare decisions).
  2. Talk openly with the dentist about your/your loved one’s needs​​
    1. Being prepared is important. If you give the dentist an opportunity to prepare by calling and talking about your or your loved one’s unique needs you will be more likely to have a successful visit. There are many resources available to help us dentists feel more comfortable treating people who have disabilities. Give us a chance to use those resources before the visit. ​
    1. A copy of your or your loved one’s medical history can be very valuable for your dentist. Not only will this help them have open communication with your medical doctor, it also generally will provide a list of diagnosis and medications to help the dentist prepare for your/your loved one’s visit.
    1. Any behavioral techniques that work at home, may also work at the dentist. Feel free to share tips and trick for success with your dentist. We value your input. We are experts in dentistry, you are the expert on you/your loved one. Working together, we can increase success.
  3. Practice Skills ​
    1. In the comfort of your own home, work on brushing, counting teeth with the other end of the toothbrush and even using a mouth mirror. Practice sitting with your loved one’s head in your lap so they get use to people looking at their teeth from that position.  Triple Bristle has a kit designed by Dr. Jacob Dent called the Brush and Bite Kit that can help people become familiar with things they may encounter in the dental office. You can also ask your dentist if there are some things you can use at home to prepare.  Practice opening and holding the mouth open for 5 seconds, then move on to 10, then 20 and so on. Make it a game… because games are fun. ​
  4. Be Patient​
    1. Patience is the key to success. We are all part of the same team. Maybe it will take the dentist a few visits to figure out how to best interact with you or your loved one. Maybe you or your loved one will take a few visits to figure out how to interact with the dentist. If both parties are patient with each other we are more likely to find success. ​
  5. Celebrate the Small Stuff​
    1. Everyone likes to feel accomplished, and nobody likes to feel defeated. Even if there is only one successful part of the visit, focus on that. Make sure that the positive is appreciated. That goes both ways.  Sometimes we dentist feel defeated too. ​
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Dr. Brooke Fukuoka