By Dr. Jason Lewis
Dentistry has come a long way in the last 10 years with advancements focused on patient comfort and convenience. Today, going to the dental office is anxiety-free and quite pleasant. Let’s explore some of the ways going to the dentist has changed for the better.
COMPLETE HEALTH DENTISTRY
The role of the dentist has evolved from a “tooth-fixer” to the quarterback of his patients’ overall health. Many patients do not have much of a relationship with a primary care physician if any. Instead, they seek care from urgent care facilities. As dentists, we are fortunate to see our patients multiple times a year. A patient’s oral health is a direct indicator of his/her overall health. We get to know our patients and their medical histories. When we see changes, we can work with the patient and our medical community to address any concerns.
THE PATIENT EXPERIENCE
When you visit a dental office today, the environment is focused on patient comfort. The dental chairs themselves are more ergonomically designed, but that is just the beginning. The entire experience has evolved. Specific team members are designated to getting to know each patient’s specific needs, concerns, and challenges, and then treatment can be uniquely planned. For example, perhaps the traditional smell of a dental office creates anxiety. Now, fragrant towels, or even the smell of freshly baked cookies fill the office.
TREATMENT AND TECHNOLOGY ADVANCES
The traditional approach of dentistry was to wait until the patient was in pain to do treatment. The mindset was, “If it doesn’t hurt, I must be OK.” We now understand that taking a preventive approach to dentistry keeps patients’ overall health better, procedures to a minimum, and dental costs down. Dentists often recommend “smart” toothbrushes that can help determine if a patient is brushing properly. Cavity-finding lasers are often used to find decay at the smallest level. But even with those advances, more advanced treatment may be required. Do not worry. This aspect of dentistry has exponentially changed.
Did you know that patients can get a filling without a needle? There are lasers that “trick” the body into thinking it is numb. 3D imaging is also available to assist dentists with the most complex procedures to ensure accuracy and efficiency making the procedure faster and less invasive. Want another example of efficiency? How about that a patient can get a permanent crown, bridge, etc in just one day? Dentists now have the technology to design these restorations right in their own offices. No more temporary teeth to wear (that usually and inconveniently fall out) while a far-off laboratory makes your teeth. In most cases, patients can have treatment without the need for a temporary tooth.
If you or a loved one has been postponing going to the dentist because of a bad experience from years ago, please consider giving it another try. You will be pleasantly surprised. A new year is about to be upon us. Make this the year to get healthy.