I cannot say that I enjoy going to the dentist (that would be weird), but I don’t dread it like I used to. I had the scary vision of “THE dentist” and the fear of pain, loud noises, needles and a stranger putting their hands in my mouth.
My attitude changed when I visited a new practice – it had a different vibe. It was all about me – my comfort, my happiness and my health.
I asked three dentists practicing in the Charlotte area what had changed in the world of dentistry. Surprisingly, Dr. Michael Farmer of Plaza Midwood Dentistry, Dr. Adrian Lineberger of Lineberger Dentistry and Dr. Seti Yemane-Byrd of Skyview Dentistry shared similar viewpoints on what’s making a visit to many dentists a more enjoyable experience for patients lately.
(1) Judgment-free zone
You won’t get a lecture or grouchy dentist. Yemane-Byrd’s practice is located uptown, in the EpiCentre. She has been a dentist for six years. “We aren’t here to judge you, we want your teeth to last your lifetime, however we can do that,” she said
(2) Positive vibe
Lineberger has been practicing in Charlotte for almost five years. He has a new practice opening up this month in Elizabeth.
“For me, vibe is everything,” he said. “I don’t want people dreading the dentist, so we’ve designed an experience and an environment — a vibe — to debunk every urban legend or old-school tradition about dentistry and to erase any fear a patient may carry from past dental experiences.”
(3) Personal attention is key
Instead of feeling like you are on a dental conveyor belt – just one more mouth to clean, the staff often try to make you feel special. They schedule extra time for individual treatment. It is not unusual to receive a phone call after a procedure or to have access to the dentist’s email or direct line.
They get to know you personally. You may even learn about what is important to your dentist.
“Some people have different goals for their teeth and mouths and the most important thing is to get the patient involved in the process of deciding what those goals are,” said Farmer, whose practice is in Plaza Midwood.
(4) Technology is better
Scheduling and reminders may be done online or through text and email. Forms are often online or completed on the tablet when you arrive. Equipment for X-rays and procedures has increased safety and speed. Better materials are available for crowns, bridges and restorations as well, according to Farmer.
Dental offices are starting to incorporate all the comforts of home to make patients feel relaxed. They may have massage chairs, music, Netflix and noise-blocking headphones to distract you from the sounds of dentistry.
“We will make sure that the patient is comfortable so that they do not feel pain — they are in control,” Farmer said. “If they are uncomfortable at any time, they know they can signal and we will stop immediately.”
Pro Tips – Out of the mouths of dentists:
(1) Prevention is better than cure. Get your teeth cleaned every six months.
(2) If you do not floss regularly, don’t floss right before you come for a cleaning. Your gums will not forgive you.
(3) Make an appointment before any condition becomes an emergency.
(4) Be honest with us. If you smoke or don’t floss, we already know before we ask you.
Photos: Rae Images, Adrian Lineberger, Mike Farmer