How can I find a dentist who is good with terrified patients?
February 13, 2009 9:35 PM   Subscribe

How can I find a dentist who is good with terrified patients?

Yeah, it's me. I'm looking for one in Northeast Ohio, nearish Brunswick. If you know one specifically, please recommend! Or maybe some sort of recommendation service?
posted by photomusic86 to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Although I can't recommend a dentist, I can tell you that nitrous oxide is a great terror buster. You could call dentists in your area and ask if they use it. I am the world's biggest weenie when it comes to any dental procedure, and I've had root canals and didn't care what was going on. I realized after a few visits to my wonderful, nitrous oxide provider dentist that I wasn't experiencing any anxiety in the waiting room. The stuff is amazing!
posted by Linnee at 11:42 PM on February 13, 2009

I'll second Linnee's suggestion. Call up dentists and ask about nitrous. For some reason, dentists in my area are terrified of the stuff, or will mock you if you ask for it. Find one that is compassionate enough to understand why you are asking and offers it.

I say this as someone that has been terrified of the dentist my whole life, but three years ago I started going steadily, to the point where it's no big deal. I just get nitrous each and every time, no matter how small the procedure (yep, even for just cleanings). It adds about $50 to the cost of a visit but it is money well spent.

I once had a dentist laugh at me for asking for novocaine when she wanted to fill a cavity. I told her I've never heard of any dentist doing it cold, just drilling right into someone's tooth without any form of anesthetic. She laughed, and I never went to that dentist ever again.
posted by mathowie at 12:45 AM on February 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

there are dentists who actually specialize in dealing with dental fear; i've been to them, because i am phobic when it comes to needles and breakthrough pain. you can also get completely sedated before the procedures.

in answer to floam: there is nothing worse than having someone tell you that a procedure won't hurt, and then they jab you with a huge needle. or the lidocaine doesn't work and they hit the nerve. or, as mathowie posts above, having a dentist laugh at you when you want some anesthetic. imagine this happening when you're a child. that'll do it.
posted by sdn at 3:37 AM on February 14, 2009

The guy who did my wisdom teeth got me an extra Valium before the procedure, which made me pretty placid about it, and then did IV Valium to keep me sedated.

(Terrified too, although not as badly as Matt describes-- and I managed to actually injure myself tonight and end up going straight from the UCLA ER to the UCLA dental clinic. If you were here, I would totally recommend the emergency dentist I had.)
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 3:40 AM on February 14, 2009

there are dentists who actually specialize in dealing with dental fear

A good search term is "sedation dentistry."
posted by mediareport at 6:10 AM on February 14, 2009

What mediareport said- you can also look for 'gentle dentistry." They specialize in scaredy cats like us.
posted by headspace at 6:49 AM on February 14, 2009

Mediareport nailed it...

That is exactly what I did, googled for sedation dentistry, found several in my area, and had LONG conversations with the staff of each, being very honest about my fears... I had the same conversation with the dentist once I met him.....
I ended up having 8 hours of work done in one day (you don't want the gory details), never felt a thing and can't remember more than about ten minutes of the event
posted by HuronBob at 7:10 AM on February 14, 2009

In the glossy magazines that cater to our metro area, there are always TONS of ads for dentists, with many of them noting that they specialize in patients who are afraid of dental work. I'm not sure if there are any such magazines for your area, but it could be worth a look if googling doesn't help. (These are the magazines that review new restaurants, maybe interview a local newscaster and show photos of their beautiful home, have shopping spreads with goods from local merchants, etc.)
posted by vytae at 7:39 AM on February 14, 2009

"Sedation dentistry" is indeed what you need.

As a dentalphobe who uses a sedation dentist practice, it's the best thing ever. You are given an oral sedation agent (no needles), placed in a dental chair, hooked up to a couple of monitors (on your fingers), covered with a warm blanket, and that's all you know until your visit is finished. I usually don't even remember seeing the dentist!! Last time I went I had a root canal, a crown and a deep cleaning all in one visit, which would take several visits to a conventional dentist.

One side note, the sedation part wasn't covered by dental insurance, so I had to pay that out of pocket, about $300, if I remember correctly.

Good luck!
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 9:15 AM on February 14, 2009

When I lived in Texas, my dentist was very well known for dealing with nervous patients. He didn't specialize in it, but he was often recommended for that. When I first went to him I had a terrible fear of the dentist from 1 bad experience. (I'd gone to the dentist every six months for my entire life without a problem, but that one bad experience was enough to create fear.) A few things I noticed:

- He encouraged people to come tour the office days before their cleaning or whatever. It allowed the person to see the place and meet the staff when things weren't scary.

- Nitrous was available and no one was ever snarky about it.

- He was willing to work with you on your fear management. I know he'd occasionally prescribe Valium to help people relax before an appointment. He had a client who did some self-hypnosis stuff in the waiting room. NBD - whatever you need.

- He encouraged you to wean yourself off needing sedation / nitrous, etc but he was reasonable about it.

I saw him for nearly a decade. Before I moved I let him remove all of my ugly amalgam fillings and replace them with composite fillings.
posted by 26.2 at 12:53 PM on February 14, 2009

For future reference, for anybody searching for this in Chicago, I really like Lule Jusufi; she's the best dentist I've ever had.
posted by rbs at 4:40 PM on February 14, 2009

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