Is There Such a Thing as a Gentle Dentist?

I’ve got bad TMJ problems and I need to have a gentle dentist. I used to have a great dentist, but he retired about three years ago. Since then, I have tried four different dentists and they were all really rough with me. I explained to them going in that I had TMJ problems and they all seemed to understand what that meant, but then even doing the exam was hard. The last one I saw found a cavity, so I begrudgingly let him fill it. He yanked my head around every which way. It was awful and I hurt for days afterward. I feel like they’re all so rushed that they forget that I’m a person, not just another mouth in the chair. Is a gentle dentist something that still exists somewhere? How do I find one?

Emily – Kansas City, Missouri

Dear Emily,

Sorry to hear you’re having such terrible luck with the dentists you’ve tried. Yes, you can still find a gentle dentist if you know what to look for. For starters, it’s probably best to avoid clinic-type offices. The fewer number of dentists and treatment rooms the place has, the more one-on-one care you’ll probably receive.

Even gentle dentists who have been in practice for a while may have a few rooms for hygienists, and someone who takes on a lot of orthodontic cases may also have rooms that are largely operated by assistants, but if all the doctor does is general dentistry, and he hasn’t been in practice for a few decades, look for an office with fewer rooms. That means the doctor won’t be dividing his time between you and several other people and he’s less likely to be rushing from room to room.

You can also check reviews and talk with the staff ahead of time. People naturally want to be in an office where they feel valued and where they’re making a difference, so doctors that provide the best patient care tend to retain their staff longer, too.  If the staff seems to be well-educated on TMJ problems, there’s a good chance that education came from working with the doctor for an extended period of time. Before you even visit, you can ask them if they’re familiar with TMJ, or how long staff members have been there, and even how many treatment rooms the doctor has. These kinds of seemingly benign questions will probably tell you more about the doctor’s demeanor than asking if he’s a gentle dentist will.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Brad Hylan.

Pre-paid Reading Clear Choice Reviews – Now What?

I did my homework and read a ton of Clear Choice reviews before going in to see them. Everything seemed to be on the up and up. So many of the reviews were positive. I saw a few bad ones, but no company always comes up aces, right? So, I go in and have my consultation, pretty much knowing that they’re going to ask me for a deposit to hold my spot because I had read all those Clear Choice reviews. I had financing lined up and felt good about it beforehand. I fully expected to go through with everything with them. But, then my sister suggested I go and see her dentist, just for a second opinion before I go through with anything. I ended up really liking what he had to say and decided to go with him instead. I called the other place and they told me they’d refund my deposit. I got the payment back and it’s $1,000 short. I have called a bunch of times and get no response. Now I’m looking online and I hear this is common- that the company really keeps the money. I can’t afford to go forward with treatment unless I get the full refund. What options do I have?

Thanks,

Meryl

Dear Meryl,

It’s always important to get a second opinion. Many patients find the dental implant options a dentist offers is superior to what they can get with Clear Choice.

There are a lot of Clear Choice reviews that talk about what you’re mentioning now. The company doesn’t seem to have any kind of policy publicly listed, so you’ll have to look at the documents you signed while you were there. If you signed something that said there was a $1,000 non-refundable deposit, it may well be difficult to get them to give that money back to you.

You may want to try to work your way up the chain and look for the number of an office manager or just visit the location where you had your appointment. Each location is independently owned and operated, so they have a lot of leeway in how they operate and the corporate office may not be of much use to you.

If these tactics fail, you can file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Again, though, if you signed an agreement saying you knew that the money was non-refundable, the BBB is probably going to side with them. They don’t have any ability to force a refund, but sometimes pressure from an outside source can encourage companies to do the right thing. Since you say that other testimonials mention this, it’s pretty clear that they don’t respond to negative reviews, either, but it wouldn’t hurt to warn potential future customers as well.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Brad Hylan.

 

Where Can I Find a Gentle Dentist for Cleanings?

I want to find a gentle dentist for my regular cleanings. My teeth have become really sensitive over the past few years and I can’t handle anything cold. Plus, my gums are very sensitive. I always feel like I’ve gone into battle when I’m leaving the office. My gums bleed and my teeth hurt– to the point where I have to take a pain reliever after I leave the office. I mentioned this to the hygienist  cleaning my teeth last time and she told me to take it beforehand. I was shocked, and a little annoyed. She didn’t seem to have any interest in being careful or compassionate. Then, she shot ice cold water on my teeth.  I just about went through the roof. I asked her to stop but she said that it was the cleaner. I’ve never had this done before. Where can I find a gentle dentist who will be careful with my sensitive teeth and gums?

Margie – Ft. Worth, TX

Margie,

It sounds like a few different things came together to give you a bad experience. You may not have to leave your office to find a gentle dentist, but you should have a talk with the doctor and his hygienist.

It’s not normal to have teeth as sensitive as yours are and it usually signifies that something is wrong. You may have thin enamel or something else going on, but they should have addressed your tooth sensitivity. Oftentimes, simply switching to a toothpaste for sensitive teeth or including a fluoride paste or rinse in your routine can reduce or eliminate it.

I’d start with the sensitive toothpaste if you’re not already using it. If this doesn’t help enough, ask your dentist what he recommends. There are special fluoride rinses you’ll find with the mouthwash in any store and there are fluoride gels you can get from the pharmacist. They’re not prescription, but pharmacies usually keep them behind the counter.

Your gums could be reacting to the harsh treatment or you could be battling gingivitis or periodontal disease. If it’s the latter, it is very difficult to do a cleaning without some discomfort. Your gums are inflamed and are going to react. Again, though, if this was the case, they should have mentioned it to you and developed a strategy to overcome it.

As far as the tool she used to clean your teeth goes, those are called ultrasonic scalers and they are quite common, but if you expressed discomfort with it, she should have used traditional hand tools. In this case, if you made the request that she switch and she didn’t, it’s worth mentioning to the dentist and requesting a different hygienist next time you visit.

If they don’t cooperate, then it could be time for you to look for another dentist.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Brad Hylan.

I Don’t Think My Root Canal Worked

I’m a little nervous about a recent procedure I had. My dentist had to do a root canal treatment. My mouth is sore, even though it’s been a few weeks. The doctor said that is normal, but I would think in this amount of time it would be getting better. Sometimes it throbs. I’m worried it didn’t work. Is that possible? Could the dentist have made a mistake? Will antibiotics help?

Lillian A. – Connecticut

Lillian,

It’s possible that the root canal treatment failed. That doesn’t mean your dentist made a mistake. He or she can do everything right. They can do everything right and the procedure could still fail.

I’d do a re-treatment. Just taking antibiotics won’t help. In fact, it will make things work. It can’t completely get rid of the infection, so it will just ease the pain for a bit. Once the antibiotic wears off it will come back in full force.

However, taking an antibiotic right before the procedure through a few days after it can be useful. I will warn you though. A re-treatment only has a 50-80% chance of success.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Brad Hylan.

 

Why I Backed Out Of Clear Choice

I saw this commercial for teeth in a day and decided to go see what Clear Choice had to offer. I had in mind what I already needed. I have a few teeth that need implants and a bridge that needs replacing. My front teeth are perfectly healthy, though I’m considering whitening them. When I get there, they have a very slick presentation that impressed me. Unfortunately, when I moved to the one on one presentation I wasn’t too thrilled. They actually wanted me to extract all my teeth, even the healthy ones and then do their all-on-four procedure. I walked out. Why extract healthy teeth? Do you think I made the right decision?

Sherry D. – Michigan

Sherry,

I absolutely think you made the right decision. Like you said, why in the world would you extract perfectly happy teeth? Often I hear this about Clear Choice. They push this one procedure, which requires you to lose teeth that were fine. No thank you.

Bottom line, don’t get pushed into something you don’t need, no matter how slick the presentation.

You’ll be much better off just getting implants where you need them and replacing your bridge. You’ll find the implants are just like having your own natural teeth back. You can eat, drink, brush, and floss normally.

You mentioned the possibility of whitening your teeth. If that’s something you’re seriously considering, make sure you do it BEFORE you get your implants or replace your bridge. This way the dentist can match your replacement teeth with your bright new smile from the whitening.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Brad Hylan.

Which Specialist Is Best For Dental Implants?

I’m more than a little bewildered here. I thought that there was only one kind of doctor, a specialist, who would perform the procedure and be the best implant dentist. Now I hear that a general dentist, a periodontist, or an oral surgeon can all be implant specialists. Is it better to choose one over the other? I’m trying to get a definitive answer before I schedule, and each office I call tells me that they’re superior for one reason or another.

Thanks,

Phil

Dear Phil,

This is a great question. Technically, there are only nine specialties recognized by the American Dental Association, and implant dentistry is not one of them. What this means is that any dentist can perform the procedure, provided he has adequate training.

The best implant dentist for you may be any one of the three doctors you spoke with, or a combination of two. Because they are done in stages, your regular dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon or a periodontist for the surgical portion, and then may finish the restoration in his office. On the other hand, any of them may see you through the entire process on his own.

If they all sound good to you and you’re unsure which one to choose, try asking them some of the following questions:

  • How many implant cases have you, personally, handled?
  • How many of these restorations have failed? (They tend to have a 98-99% success rate, so the doctors are likely to remember how many have had issues.)
  • How many continuing education courses, or hours have you logged, studying the procedure?
  • How long have you been performing this procedure?
  • How long have you been in practice?

These call all be helpful to know if you’re trying to determine the skill-level of the doctor. After all, it can be the largest deciding factor in whether your treatment is successful or not. You can also ask around to friends and family, to see if any of them have had the procedure done, and ask for a referral if it went well. Review sites, like Yelp, can also provide a wealth of information.

Look at Dr. Hylan’s credentials. That gives you some idea of what you’re looking for.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Brad Hylan.

Are Affordable Dental Implants a Scam?

A good friend of mine went to Mexico in search of affordable dental implants. The doctor studied here in the United States and spoke fluent English, plus had stellar reviews, so she felt very comfortable being in his care. She went through the whole process with him, visiting Mexico every couple of months for about a year. She said that his work was so cheap that she could pay for the repeated trips and still save money. I didn’t ask her what his total costs were, but she raved about him. Well, just after the work got finished, she came down with a nasty infection and she made the trip out there yet again. The doctor gave her antibiotics and sent her home. About a month after that, her whole face swelled up and I had to drive her there because she couldn’t go on her own. The guy had to take the whole thing out and now she’s got nothing. Has to start from scratch. How common is this? Until her incident, I was considering going to him for affordable dental implants, too.

Mel – Texas

Dear Mel,

Affordable dental implants often wind up being anything but that when you go out of the country for them. Medicine and medical devices are highly regulated in the United States, which is one of the reasons why costs are higher. There are also various types of insurance doctors have to cover and they answer to a board.

In Mexico, you’re mostly on your own. They don’t even have laws about hygiene and disinfecting the equipment. The contract is between you and the doctor and if there’s an issue and the doctor won’t budge, you’re generally out of luck. How the dentist decides to handle the situation is up to him or her.

Dental implants require a great deal of skill as well, and that has a major impact on how well they perform. Overall, they have about a 98% success rate, but doctors with more experience deliver better results.

It’s impossible to say whether the issue here was lack of skill, cheap parts being used, or just a “fluke” that can even happen to great doctors here in the U.S.. Sometimes Implant procedures fail even when everything was done perfectly.

An online search for the doctor she saw and the issue she had could be very telling, but be aware that these border practices change names a lot to escape poor reputations.

For the best results, find someone stateside who does affordable dental implants and has a good track record. You may find that some offer combinations of bridges or dentures  and implants or offer something like minis, but the key here should be quality. If need be, you may be able to purchase a supplemental insurance plan that could cover some of the procedure or find out if a local office offers some kind of payment plan option, to make it easier to budget for.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Brad Hylan.

Can I Whiten My Teeth If I Have a Dental Implant?

I’ve had a dental implant for several years. I really love it. It feels just like my natural teeth. It’s been the best. Lately, I’ve been thinking of updating my smile. I’m getting on in age. Not too old, but old enough to want to freshen myself up a bit. Do I need to do anything special with my implant crown to whiten my teeth?  I’ve got plenty of money, so that’s not an issue. I just need to know the best course of action.

Debra H. – Ft. Worth, TX

Debra,

I’m glad you’re so pleased with your dental implants. They truly are like having your natural teeth.  As far as getting your teeth whitened, there is a way to do it with dental implants.

The first step will be the whitening. You won’t have to do anything special to protect the implant, but it won’t whiten. Only natural tooth structure whitens.

What you do next depends on where the implant is. If it’s in the back, you don’t have to do anything. Teeth in the back are naturally a little darker than the rest of your teeth. Furthest back, they can’t even be seen.

If they’re visible, you can have a good cosmetic dentist re-do the implant crown to match your new brilliant, white color.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Brad Hylan.

My Dentist Yelled at Me

I need a dental crown. My dentist wants to do a metal based crown. Because it’s a front tooth I wanted to do an all-porcelain crown.  He said they’re not strong enough. I told him what I read about them  being fine for front teeth. My dentist became enraged and started shouting that if I think I know better than he does, why don’t I just do the crown myself. He made it clear that he went to dental school and I did not.  I was humiliated. Is there something I’m missing? I really thought porcelain was fine for front teeth.

Heather H. – Sheridan, AR

Heather,

Wow.  That would be frustrating. It sounds like your dentist has a frail ego.  Regardless of the fact that he went to dental school and you didn’t, you have the right idea. All-porcelain crowns on front teeth are perfectly fine. In fact, given the gray line that will develop and the need to make the crown more opaque, it is preferred on front teeth.

You might be more comfortable with a more thoughtful dentist. Someone who’s gentle not just with how he cares for your teeth, but with your how he or she treats you as a person.

Metal based crowns are fine for back teeth.  They do have a stronger base, but you don’t have to worry about the aesthetic issues in the back.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Brad Hylan.

Teeth Fell Apart, but I Don’t Want Dentures

I don’t know what happened.  My teeth always seemed fine. My other dentist always bragged on me.  Then, I got pregnant. I was too sick to even function, let alone go to the dentist, but I thought missing one or two appointments wouldn’t be that big a deal. Then my husband got transferred. We moved. I got pregnant again. The second pregnancy was just as sick as the first one. Now, two children later, I finally visit a new dentist. He said my teeth are in horrible shape and many of them will have to come out. I was shocked! I ‘m too young for dentures. What can I do. He mentioned implants, but those were super expensive. What would you do in my place, and how did this fall apart so quickly?

Alicia – Mississippi

Alicia,

First, don’t beat yourself up too much. Pregnancies are hard on bodies. I’m guessing if you were sick, that included a lot of vomiting. There have been dental patients that vomit all 9 months, so I understand how trying this can be. Vomit is very acidic, which eats away at your tooth enamel. Combine that with lack of dental visits (no judging), it’s no wonder your teeth fell apart.

However, I’m a little surprised if your teeth need to come out that you never felt any pain during this time. It wouldn’t hurt to get a second opinion.  However, what your dentist diagnosed is a reasonable result of what you described.

Yes, dental implants are expensive. But, if you can at all afford them, I’d highly recommend them over dentures, especially given your young age.

Dentures do not replace your tooth root, which causes you to lose jaw bone. In ten to twenty years, you’ll be into facial collapse and won’t even be able to wear dentures.

Dental implants protect your jaw bone by replacing the root. If you don’t have the money up front, most dentists work with Care Credit. It’s essentially a medical credit card.  It’s not like traditional credit cards.  You get to pick the terms. Some are even no-interest.

One suggestion for your next pregnancy. After vomiting, immediately swish some water around your mouth, then wait a few minutes before brushing your teeth. The water will help neutralize the acid.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Brad Hylan.