Friday, March 16, 2012

3 Steps to Undo Years of Dental Problems in a Few Visits

All of us have heard of "paralysis of analysis", when we put off making a decision about something we know we need to address by continually thinking over our options. It's no different in dentistry. People often put off needed dentistry for several years or more. Can you blame them? Some people have had bad experiences in the past for single-tooth issues and are thinking that addressing all of their problems will just be several more bad experiences in a row. Others know they have several dental problems and are overwhelmed by the different options and their associated price tags. It's no secret that having dental work done involves time in the chair (and off work), significant amounts of money and possibly healing time. Good dentistry takes time and money while great dentistry often takes even more time and even more money. We all want to be healthy, and here's how to start:

1) Seek out a trusted source.  It's been said that a journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. The best way to start to get a handle on your situation is to start a relationship with a dentist that will take into account your goals, finances, and any reservations you have about treatment. If you decide to go through with treatment you're going to spend some time with this individual and his/her team so consider this your chance to make sure you feel like the office is a good fit for you. Many dentists offer complimentary consultations. If your case is simple you might be able to go ahead and complete the exam and records (x-rays, impressions, etc) at this visit. If you have a complex situation you'll probably just have a calm, comfortable discussion and plan on coming back for all the examination "stuff". Ballpark budgets can be discussed to help the dentist concentrate his/her efforts on designing a solution for you that fits within your expectations. For instance, you might find out that what you think you wanted was much more than you intended to invest but that it can completed in sections over time to make it affordable. Most importantly, you should get a "good vibe" from this first visit.

2) Find out where you are so you can find out how to get where you want to be. At some point, someone has to put their hands in your mouth. And that's not all. A detailed exam will certainly involve X-rays but may also include impressions and photos. If there's one thing patients dislike it's surprises in the middle of treatment that add to the cost or timeline. It's always a good idea to ask your dentist questions like "so what will we do if this doesn't work?" or "what could change and put us off course?". This is an important part of making sure that you and your dentist are on the same page about your treatment.

3) Consider Sedation. It's taken several years for your dental problems to develop, but once you've worked up the motivation to take care of them it can be disappointing to learn that it's going to take several hours in the chair to see some results. It's understandable that many people who have avoided the dentist fear discomfort, but for those who aren't phobic even just the time sitting still can be an obstacle. IV sedation is a solution that can address both of those concerns. Not only does it keep you more comfortable, but it can allow your dentist to complete your work more efficiently by chipping away at your treatment plan in larger "chunks". For example, with sedation someone facing the loss of all of their teeth can easily walk out with dentures after just one visit. That's quite a transformation!

Everyone knows that there are many benefits to having a healthy mouth but it's easy to get "analysis paralysis" over some of the obstacles to getting your teeth fixed. Start your journey now and you might find that it's easier than you think. Best of all, when you're enjoying your new smile and the foods you love again, you'll be reminded why you did it in the first place...because it's worth it!