Isn’t a gentle dentist an oxymoron?

Why do dentists seriously call themselves gentle? How can that be? It just seems like a marketing scam to me.

– Becky in Louisiana


That is an interesting question. But there are many dentists that advertise as being exactly that, a gentle dentist. This may be particularly appealing to an anxious or fearful patient.

The right dentist truly does have grounds to market this way. Many dentists build their practices around helping fearful patients and gentle dentistry is one approach. Techniques that would fall in line with this focus would be a dentist that goes very slowly, addresses and discusses concerns as they arise, and also uses techniques like a numbing agent to minimize the feeling of the injection. Having distractions like music or movies is also common among gentle dentists.

Some gentle dentists take it a step further by offering sedation dentistry. Another term gaining popularity is a cater to cowards dentist. Nitrous oxide and oral sedation are two forms of sedation dentistry that are especially appealing to fearful patients that these practices would offer. So it is correct to refer to these types of dentists as gentle dentists or sedation dentists.

If you haven’t had to deal with fear, you are lucky. Millions of Americans deal with some sort of dental phobia.

Thanks for your question.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

My tongue and lip were cut at the dentist. Can I get a refund?

I have always had pretty positive experiences at the dentist, until last week. I was getting my tooth prepared for a crown and I also needed three fillings done. I decided laughing gas would be good since it was a lot of work to be done at once.

Well, even with nitrous, I was freaked when the dentist cut my lip with a utensil. I was gushing blood and he kept trying to apply pressure to what felt like my entire face. I could feel his panic and what do you know, some anesthetic solution splashed right into my eye causing it to water and burn like crazy.

Then, he must have been flustered because when he started drilling a back molar he nicked the underside of my tongue. I felt like I was in some kind of horror movie. It was such a helpless feeling and I didn’t know what to do.

He never even apologized about any of it. And when I still was in a lot of pain several days later, I called into complain thinking he would offer me some kind of discount or something. I know I probably won’t get a refund or anything but I feel like at the very least deserve an apology. He had the nerve to tell me that a lot of people bite their tongue when they are numb. Seriously? This will be the last time I see this dentist. Do I have any grounds to pursue any kind of reimbursement? This was an expensive and painful visit.

– Dee in Washington, DC


Unfortunately, dental accidents do occur. But it sounds like he isn’t handling the situation professionally. You absolutely deserve an apology. But as for a discount or reimbursement, it completely is reliant upon the particular dentist. And from the sounds of it doesn’t sound like he will accommodate that request. He sounds pretty defensive. So you will have to force the issue. Although, not sure if you really have any damages that are worthy of a lawsuit or that you would be able to demonstrate. Sadly, you may have to cut your losses and move on to another dentist.

It is possible you were moving around for these injuries to take place. So in looking for your new dentist it may be in your best interest to find a dentist that offers sedation dentistry treatment. It sounds like you did get nitrous oxide, but oral sedation may be beneficial if you have an appointment where you require a lot of work done in one sitting. It may be that you were a little skiddish in the chair. If this dentist had a history of dental accidents, he probably wouldn’t have many patients. It’s not your fault by any means and you are right to be upset. But moving forward, sedation dentistry may be really helpful to you.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

I’m not even 40, should I get dentures?

I am only 39 years old and my teeth are deteriorating every year. At the moment I have two that are driving me crazy because they hurt so badly. I get these terrible zinging sensations from anything hot or cold and I have so much dental work that causes me to grind my teeth every night. I have tried mouth guards, have loads of crowns, fillings, and have endured many root canals. I have always kept up with regular dental care but my mom had dentures by 50. So I feel like I got the short end of the stick with genetics. I have paid thousands of dollars to the dentist and now he wants to do two more root canals. Is it time I just cut my losses and get dentures?

– Candice in Georgia


It sounds like you are having a tough time yet again. Most dentists will encourage you to maintain as much healthy tooth structure as possible, whether it be through crowns or root canals. The problem is once the teeth are extracted, that’s it. Have you started talking about other options with your dentist? Dentures are not the only option for people in your situation, although most people assume them to be.

Have you considered dental implants? Dental implants are becoming the best practice for replacing missing teeth. It is understandable that you are fed up with root canals and crowns, but dental implants are actually surgically implanted into your jawbone and a replacement crown is placed directly on it. Implants tend to be a bit more expensive than dentures, but the end result and quality of life is something that you should definitely consider. They look, feel, and function just like your natural teeth.

Your mom may be able to attest to it, but when you no longer have teeth present the body resorbs the bone to be used in other parts of the body. The end result is bone that shrinks and your face takes on a sunken in appearance. Over time (10-20 years) you will not even be able to keep a denture in, there will likely be dietary restrictions, and they will be terribly uncomfortable. This bone loss condition is called facial collapse. So proceed with caution in making your decisions. You are still very young and facial collapse is inevitable with dentures at your age.

There are some other treatment options that may work for you that are less expensive than dental implants. Ask your dentist about partial dentures, a dental bridge, or even an implant-supported denture. Also, it is important that you seek a couple opinions before selecting an implant dentist. It takes extensive training beyond dental school in order to have success in placing them. Good luck! This post isn’t to scare you out of dentures. Just know your options and possible denture problems that patients deal with.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

I have a dental emergency, my tooth is killing me but no insurance.

I was hoping my toothache would go away. But it’s getting worse everyday. Last night it even kept me awake for most of the night. I did my best to self medicate, it you catch my drift. I can’t keep that up. I have to get this taken care of today. I don’t have insurance and am looking for someone that will take care of my dental emergency. Please help!

– Peg in South Carolina


You need to be seen by a dentist right away. If you search for an emergency dentist in your city, there is a good chance you can find one that will see you today. You may want to consider adding “affordable” to the search term if you don’t have dental insurance. There is a good chance that an emergency dentist that will take you without you being a patient of record will be willing to work with you on payment. Definitely mention it when you call in and ask about their payment options. It will require a little legwork to find an affordable dentist that will see your emergency today. But if you live in a big enough city, you have a good chance.

The tooth sounds like it’s infected. You can’t leave it untreated or the infection will spread and could become very serious quickly. The sooner you get into the dentist, the sooner and more economically your needs will be treated. A root canal may be required to save the tooth. Or if you are having serious financial problems, the cheapest treatment will be to have it extracted. That should be a last case resort, because it can lead to a bunch of other problems down the road.

An affordable dentist should have some payment options in place, like CareCredit. This third-party financing company usually has zero or very low interest rates for six months to a year and they are accepted at many dentist offices. It only takes a few minutes to be approved. Just be upfront about having no insurance and also be sure to communicate the urgency of your dental need. Call and try to get in today.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Can I super glue my crown back on the dental implant?

My crown came off of my dental implant. I can’t afford the dentist right now and think I’m going to super glue it. Is that okay until I can get back into the implant dentist?

– Pam in Indiana


You need to go into the implant dentist as soon as possible. Super glue is not a fix for something like this. Not only may it be toxic but you may end up causing dental implant failure and irreversible damage. You know how much work went into the placement of your dental implant to begin with, so don’t risk ruining it all. There is also a risk that your bite may be off if you do it yourself.

Best case scenario, the dentist should be able to reattach the porcelain crown without damaging the implant post. But the implant dentist really needs to figure out why the crown came off in the first place. It may be an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Please, please don’t super glue it!

Most dentists will work with you on payment. Just be upfront and honest and it is possible they will split your bill into payments. Or you may be interested in something like CareCredit which offers zero and low interest financing options which make dentistry affordable.

Bottom line – don’t mess around with self-fixing your dental implant. You may be causing yourself more trouble and a much more expensive fix in the long run.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.


Is there help for dental phobia?

I’m so embarrassed to be admitting this but I have dental phobia. I try to psyche myself up to go into the dentist but I put it off at all cost. I literally lose sleep before a dentist appointment for a full week. I can’t put it off any longer because I need some major work done. I am freaking out! There has to be others like me. Anyone? Please help. I know I have to get the work done, but am trying to avoid the nervous breakdown I feel coming on. It’s not that I’m necessarily scared of what the dentist is doing, it’s fear that he will somehow slip and hit a nerve or cause me unbearable pain.

– Cammie in Texas


Have you talked to your dentist about this? Dental fear is a real phobia that millions of people have. You are not alone and should not feel embarrassed at all. Many dentists like to cater to cowards just like you. These types of practices are passionate about helping you get the care you need. They are gentle, the atmosphere is relaxing, and they usually offer sedation dentistry.

Have you heard of oral sedation? It sounds like you are an excellent candidate. It simply involves taking some medication prior to your appointment which will make you completely indifferent to what is going on. It is perfectly safe and effective. Most sedation dentistry patients will tell you that they remember nothing of the visit. You aren’t unconscious which means you still breathe and swallow on your own, so it’s different than general anesthesia like you get at a hospital. Pretty much, it feels like no time has passed. Most relate it to feeling like you were asleep. Imagine going into the dentist without the fear. When you “wake up” it’s over.

You will need to have someone drive you to the office and back because it won’t be safe for you to drive. The right sedation dentist can help you work through your fear and build that trust. Who knows – maybe one day all the anxiety will be a thing of the past. Ask your dentist about sedation.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Can I whiten my dentures with Clorox?

I don’t like my dentures and want them to be whiter. Is that possible? Can I bleach them with Clorox on my own?

– Jed in Texas


Dentures are made of either an acrylic or ceramic material that will not lighten. Teeth whitening treatments done by a dentist are only effective on living teeth and since dentures are artificial, it will not work. When the dentures were originally created, they should have been done to look natural and blend in with your complexion and skin tone, etc.

Unfortunately, after a denture is made, the color or shade can not be adjusted. The only way to get a lighter tone would be to have a new set of dentures made. Maybe you could consider going this route if you are really unhappy with the look of your current set. Then, you would have a back-up set. That way you never have to worry about being without teeth.

You aren’t alone when it comes to unhappy denture patients. Many people aren’t pleased with the way they look. So if you decide to get a new set made, be sure you clearly communicate how light you want to go. And whatever you do, do not use Clorox to try to whiten them on your own. This will not work and may end up whitening pink gum portion of an acrylic denture.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Is It Worth Getting a Second Opinion After Clear Choice Gave a Me Treatment Plan?

I’m wondering if it’s worth the time and effort to get a second opinion after a Clear Choice doctor has already given me a treatment plan. I went in because I really wanted dental implants, and I’d heard good things about them. The ads seemed good, but I don’t personally know anyone who has used them. At any rate, the doctor really pushed all-on-fours and said that was my only viable option. The thing is, that’s not what I want. I couldn’t tell if he was being sincere, and that’s really my only choice or if he just prefers the procedure, so he says that’s all I can have done. I’m paying out-of-pocket, so I don’t want to schedule a Clear Choice second opinion visit with someone else if I’m just going to be told the exact same thing. Should I bother?


Astrid in Maryland

Dear Astrid,

It’s always worth getting a second opinion, especially when you are planning to make such a large investment. Clear Choice is known for their high-pressure tactics and also for not providing options. They tend to lean towards a one-size-fits-all approach, when there are almost always numerous solutions to a dental problem.

You may be a candidate for doing all dental implant replacements, or an implant-supported bridge, or a number of other possibilities. All-on-fours may be the best solution for you, depending on your wishes, the condition of your mouth and teeth, and your budget. But they should have let you know what your other choices are.

Because procedures like this are not reversible, but very costly and time-consuming, it’s definitely worth the time and effort to get a Clear Choice second opinion when something doesn’t seem right. You may wind up choosing to do exactly what they recommended, but you deserve to be able to make an informed decision about it. Moreover, you may prefer to have it done by an office who doesn’t push you so hard to do what they want. Having a consultation with another doctor may provide you with these things and also with peace of mind, which is absolutely priceless.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.