Gentle dentistry is term that that you may hear a lot as you look at the advertising of various dental practices.
It seems reasonable that everyone would want gentle dentistry as no one goes to their dentist wanting treatment that is not gentle or painful. At Smile Design Dentistry in Plymouth, MN we believe that gentle dentistry is not just about your time in the dental chair but more about your whole dental experience at our office. Let me explain a little further how our patient-focused dentistry works.
If you are a baby boomer or older, the term gentle dentistry (or not-so-gentle) may bring up childhood memories of sitting in the dentist chair with white knuckles, listening to the shrill sound of the dentist’s drill and waiting for the discomfort to start. While this is the most common thought relating to a trip to the dental office, the staff believes that gentle dentistry begins with the first phone call to the office and doesn’t stop until after your appointment is finished. This is what I refer to as the gentle dental experience at Smile Design Dentistry.
First in your experience is the decision to call your dental office and schedule an appointment. It could be for a regular cleaning or a toothache. The reason doesn’t really matter. At our office we want to make sure that every contact the patient has is gentle. This gentle approach starts when we answer your phone call.
- We aim to pleasantly answer the phone by the third ring. We try not to put someone on hold but if needed it should not be longer than a minute.
- We should have genuine concern in helping you find an appropriate appointment with a doctor or hygienist of your choice. We understand taking off from work or juggling children’s schedules is not easy so we try to be accommodating as possible.
Right after the call you should receive appointment reminders that can easily be placed on your phone calendar. Again, juggling everything that needs to be done on a given day can be overwhelming. We try to help you get organize by sending the appointment reminder to you in a helpful way.
Now it is the day of your appointment and you are stepping into the office. This is our next gentle touch point. When you go to see your dentist are your greeted by name or is it with a cold, unemotional “Name please.” We try to recognize and know the names of our patients. Hopefully we are forming relationships that will last for years and years. We believe knowing your name is the least we can do.
Between kids, work and spouses we know you are busy and probably a whole list of appointments and items scheduled in your day. It is important to maintain the schedule to get the list done. If a dental appointment was part of that day, were you seen at your appointed time? Were you in the dental chair for the amount of time you were told the appointment would take? Again, as you manage your day it is important for us as another gentle touch to get you in and out of the office in the promised amount of time. Your time is valuable and we want to be respectful of that.
Next, during the actual dental appointment is what most people commonly think of as the definition of a gentle dental appointment. Did the care provided during your appointment or not? Dr. Corey Jensen and Dr. Brett Moore excel in pain-free dental care at Smile Design Dentistry in Plymouth. “Having a pain-free dental appointment is as much of an art as it is a science.” States Dr. Jensen. “Getting a patient numb isn’t about jabbing a needle into someone’s gum and hoping the gum gets numb. Even the process of injecting the anesthetic should be pain free. When I give an injection, I create a distraction to get the patient thinking about something else. The distraction could be conversation to take the focus away form the needle or it could be as simple as massaging the gums with my finger close to the injection site. Either way the patient is thinking about other things and before you know it, the injection is finished!” After that there will be a short wait for the anesthetic to take effect. Dr. Jensen and Dr. Moore then create a signal for their patient to let them know if any discomfort is felt as there should be none. It is important for the doctors to know if they need to take any further action to help with your dental pain management.
Anesthetic Options During Your Dental Visits
There are other avenues a dentist can take to make your visit comfortable. Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is available to help anxious patients relax. For those even more anxious, a small pill can be prescribed prior to your appointment to reduce anxiety. Last, for the most anxious patients, sedation dentistry can be employed to put you in a state of semi-sleep or fully asleep. Sedation dentistry requires more professional training and possibly the help of nurses and the need for pre-operative physicals so this tends to be used in only the most extreme cases. Bottom line is with today’s anesthetic options there is no reason to feel discomfort at your appointment.
How to Make Dentistry Gentle on the Pocket Book
When it comes to a dental visit it is the actual time in the dental chair that most people associate with a visit being gentle or not. We have just discussed how that can and should be pain free so is that where gentle ends? No, your visit isn’t finished yet so neither should the attention to delivering a gentle experience. What I am referring to is the financial component. Many times, investing in your oral health or smile design does not come without an expense. We understand the financial commitment can be significant and we try to also make this as gentle as possible. There are various methods we employee to help with the finances and offer the greatest value for your dental costs.
- First is the philosophy of no surprises. When the doctor first tells a patient about dental health issues, he or she will have their team put together a treatment plan showing what procedures are needed and the cost of the procedures.
- If you are lucky enough to have dental insurance to help cover some of the costs the dental team will either submit to your insurance prior to your appointment to get an out-of-pocket estimate, or put together an insurance estimate based on their experience with your insurance company.
- Once you know what an estimated out-of-pocket is to get yourself dentally healthy payment arrangements are then set so you will not be surprised with copays at your visit. The payment arrangements may even include payment plans to help you.
“There is no reason that a patient cannot become dentally healthy if they choose. It is important for me that my team help my patients find a way to fit dental care into their budgets. Dental health can significantly affect other parts of the body and if we can find a way to treat a patient sooner rather than later it has been proven to be less costly and improve overall health.” – Dr. Moore
I will hazard a guess that most of you were not thinking about finances being associated with the term gentle dentistry but now, sitting back and thinking you probably see the connection.
We are not yet finished with our journey towards gentle dentistry but what else could there be? Like I stated before at Smile Design Dentistry we want your whole dental experience to be gentle, not just the time in the dental chair. You have finished your dental appointment and are being escorted to the front desk by the dental hygienist or assistant. You should be introduced to the front desk personnel at the check-out and greeted by name. This is personal for us, not just business. We want to know your appointment hopefully went well and make certain there are no financial surprises as you leave. There should be a fond good bye and see you next time.
Believe it or not, that is not the final step on your gentle experience but we are getting close. We understand that as you leave you will not be in discomfort but what about after the anesthetic wears off? At Smile Design Dentistry we don’t want the gentleness to end after you walk out the door. We know that some potential discomfort can happen after the anesthetic wears off so on some of the procedures the staff or doctors themselves will follow-up with a phone call to see how you are doing. They want to know if anything unexpected has happened after you got back home or back to work. It is important for us to know you have tolerated the procedure well and if any additional help or care is needed that we are there for you!
As you can see gentle dentistry covers a much broader spectrum than you may have first realized. Gentle dentistry is more about the whole dental experience as opposed to just the time in the dentist’s chair. As you search for your next dental office or dental provider keep these points in the back of your mind. It will put you in a better position to pick an office or dentist who can provide the gentle dentistry you are looking for!