Category Archives: Gentle Dentistry

My Dentist Has a Brain Tumor

My dentist has always been a kind, gentle man. The last time I went for my check-up, he was completely different. In the middle of my exam he humiliated me. He turned to his assistant and said, “This woman is a perfect example of someone who lies about flossing. Why can’t patients just admit they don’t care for their teeth?” I was so embarrassed I didn’t know what to do, especially since I do floss. I only do it once a day, but I do it. I was determined to never come back, but after he left the assistant grabbed me and apologized. She explained the dentist has a brain tumor and it’s changed his personality. She begged me not to take it personally. I’m worried though. If it changed his personality, does that mean he could do some damage to my teeth? Has it affected his thinking and skill?

Samantha – West Virginia


I wouldn’t feel qualified to tell you whether or not the brain tumor has affected your dentist’s ability to perform his job. Obviously, it’s affected his personality. It sounds like his assistant is on top of things. It might be better to express your concerns with her and see what she thinks. She works with him every day and will know if there is any cognitive decline.

If you’re concerned, you could just temporarily switch dentists, keeping in touch with your current clinic so you’ll know when things have normalized some.

Given the difficulty you experienced in your last appointment, it might be good for you to look for a dentist who’s known as a gentle dentist. Someone with a kind chairside manner to help you in the transition period.

It might not be a bad idea to have the new dentist give a careful look at your gums (though he should do that anyway), given your current dentist’s insensitive comments. It could just be his brain tumor speaking, but sometimes dental problems, including gum disease can sneak up on us. You can do everything right and still have issues pop up. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

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What If I Am Terrified of the Dentist?

I have had so many bad experiences at the dentist that I find it almost impossible to go. I know I need to get some dental care. Even now I’m terrified of getting a cavity, but I cannot find a way to get through the door of a dentist’s office. Are there any helps?

Tina – Ohio


I’m very compassionate about the position your find yourself in. I want you to know you’re not alone. Many people have a fear of the dentist. Our mouths are vulnerable parts of our body.

I’m impressed that even with your fear, you’re still concerned about your oral health. I wish more people were as conscientious as you are.

I have good news for you. There are dentists who are aware of the fear you experience and cater to patients that suffer from dental anxiety. You can do a quick internet search for some of the following terms. Any of them will likely lead you to a dentist that can help you experience a pain free appointment.

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I Can’t Finish My Crown Procedure

I had the first part of an appointment to get a dental crown. I don’t think I can go back. The dentist was a monster. He was rough and rude. I felt like I was being manhandled. Do I have to stay with this dentist?

Belinda M. – Staten Island, NY


I’m extraordinarily sad for the experience you had. No one should feel manhandled at a dentist’s appointment. In fact, a dentist should be gentle with all their patients. The rudeness is inexcusable as well.

To answer your question, no, you don’t have to remain with this dentist. You can switch dentists at any point in a procedure and your current dentist is ethically bound to give whichever dentist you choose all the information pertinent to your treatment.

Let me assure you there are kind and gentle dentists. You can get good care. Be careful not to put off your treatment for too long. I know you’ve had a bad experience, so it will be easy to dread another appointment, but this is important.

Do a search for “Gentle Dentist” or “Sedation Dentist” that may help you find a kind dentist more quickly.

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Terrified to Go to the Dentist

I’m sure I have a cavity. The tooth is aching and I see a spot on it. I know I need to do something about it, but I’m terrified of the dentist. Why can’t dentists be gentle?

Kate – New Jersey


It’s normal for people to be uncomfortable with the dentist. Our mouths are both sensitive and personal. Having someone messing around there feels invasive and can make you feel a little helpless. Let me assure you, though, there are gentle dentists.

However, based on what you’ve said above you’ll need a gentle dentist who also uses sedation. This procedure will be extra intimidating to a patient who hasn’t been to the dentist in a while. Plus, the area is already tender and the dentist will need to poke at it a bit.

Using sedation, will give you a pain free experience while getting your dental needs dealt with. Depending on the level of sedation you choose, you’ll need to have someone drive you to and from your appointment.

Don’t put this off. A cavity can quickly turn into an abscess and spread.

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Sadistic Dentists

I went to a dentist for the first time in years. I stopped going because the visits always hurt. I decided to try again. This guy was worse than the last one. I’m beginning to think all dentists are sadists. There wasn’t really anything wrong with my teeth. I had one cavity. That’s after over five years of ignoring the dentist. Is it really worth it to go if all they do is cause pain?

Natalie P. – Maryland.


It sounds like you’ve had some horrible experiences with the dentist. AND I’m thrilled the only problem was one cavity. First, I’m sure you’re aware the cavity needs to be dealt with. I realize I have no right to tell you this and it is your decision, but I don’t want you going back to this dentist. You’ve already had one bad experience with him and I’d really love for your next experience to be a positive one.

There are some terms you could Google to help ensure you get a better experience. Try looking for someone using the terms “Gentle Dentist” or “Sedation Dentist”. These dentists will give you a positive experience. From what you’ve said, your first positive experience.

I know you’re questioning the use of going to the dentist twice a year, but let me ask you this. What would have happened if you hadn’t gone this year? That cavity would spread. It could even become life threatening. Believe it or not, people still die from tooth infections even in this century.

You can have positive experiences though. I promise you, not all dentists are sadists.

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Could ‘Gentle Dentist’ Have Caused Permanent Damage with Shot?

I intentionally searched for a gentle dentist because I have very sensitive gums. The one I found seemed fine at first. But, having him do actual work was a nightmare. At my last office, the doctor would use some kind of numbing medicine on a big cotton swab before he’d do the shot and would leave it there for a few minutes. This one only put it on for about a second before he was trying to stick the needle in my mouth. I asked him if it made a difference and he said that it was just as effective either way. No, it’s not. The second he put the needle in I practically jumped out of my chair and started crying. I tried to get him to stop, but he didn’t. He just kept saying it would only be a second. It was the worst feeling ever because I couldn’t move or do anything while he still had the needle in. When he finally finished, I was practically hyperventilating and he didn’t even care. He just told his assistant to help me and he left the room.

The assistant was very sweet. I felt like she had been through this a lot with him, so I was calm when he came back, but I was still really upset that he didn’t seem to care. From that point on, it only got worse. He talked to me like I was a child and scolded me for moving. All throughout the filling he was rough and stopped every minute or two to correct some perceived inappropriate behavior I was doing. I moved. I closed my mouth. I wasn’t angled right. Then, he just started grabbing my head and snapping it to wherever he wanted it to be.

I was humiliated and hurt. I am not ever going back to him, but now I seem to have a new problem. The numbness doesn’t seem to be wearing off. It’s been almost two days and I am still numb in some spots. Obviously, he wasn’t a gentle dentist at all, but now I’m afraid he did permanent damage. I can’t go back. I won’t go back. What should I do?

Erica- Philadelphia

Dear Erica,

You’re right- he wasn’t a gentle dentist in the least. I’m annoyed he tried to advertise and pass himself off as one. I sincerely hope you’ll write a review letting other potential victims know what he’s really like. I’m sorry you had this kind of experience when you specifically looked for someone who would be extra careful. Don’t give up. There are truly gentle dentists out there.

As far as the numbness goes, it sounds like he hit a nerve- a real nerve, not just an emotional one. This is something that can happen in any office, as the exact placement of the nerves varies from person to person. The doctor’s goal is to land close to it, but not touch it. Sometimes, it gets grazed or even punctured despite the dentist doing everything right. In most cases where this happens, the numbness goes away in a matter of days or a week. If the nerve is totally severed, it could be permanent, but this is extremely rare.

While there’s no surefire way to prevent this, slowing down certainly helps, and you’ll need a new gentle dentist next time around. Check out reviews and ask questions of the office ahead of time to find out what makes the office gentle. Best of luck to you.

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My Dentist Is A Sadist

I think my dentist is secretly a sadist. He knows I’m terrified of needles, and yet instead of making it easier, he jabs it in. There aren’t a lot of dentists in our area. I’m wondering if it’s possible to find a gentle dentist. Will it be worth it to me to drive to another city? I’ve gotten to the point where I avoid going.

Melissa – South Dakota


First, I’ll say that yes, you can definitely find a gentle dentist. I don’t know if your dentist is truly a sadist or just an insensitive lout. Either way, you don’t have to subject yourself to him. It’s worth it to drive to another city.

You mentioned you’re avoiding your dental health care. Here’s the problem. The only one that hurts is you. Your oral health will decline and require more work.

Be assured there are many ways to make a dental visit pain free, especially in this day and age. If you can’t find a gentle dentist in your city, it would definitely be worth it to travel to another city. When you have a great dentist it has a positive impact not just on your dental health but your oral health as well.

Generally, unless there’s a problem, you only need to go twice a year. You could make a day out of it and have some fun, especially if it’s a bigger city. Take in a movie or have a leisurely lunch and do some shopping.

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Brought My Son to the Dentist. Big Mistake!

I decided my son was getting old enough to go to the dentist. I thought it would do him good to see me in an appointment to have some idea what to expect. It was a big mistake. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize my regular dentist was out. I knew he had a partner, but had never been treated by him before. Let’s just say they may as well be named Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He was rude, impatient. Then when he hurt me and I yelped he yelled at me. Suffice it to say my son never wants to go to the dentist. Do you have any tips to help me turn this around?

Barbara – Washington


What an awful experience for both you and your son. Don’t blame yourself. You had a great idea. Sometimes our best ideas backfire on us. My suggestion is to first sit him down and explain to him that every dentist is different. Some are patient. Some are rushed. Some are gentle. Some are rough.

Then, I’d talk to your regular dentist about what your goal was and what happened. I bet he’d likely make a special effort to give your son a great experience when you returned.

You didn’t mention how old your son was. While I think you’re likely doing this, I just wanted to emphasize how important it is you get him to his first dental appointment before he has any problems, like a cavity. You’ll really want his first appointment to be a good, pain-free experience.

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Avoiding a Rough Dentist

I moved halfway across the country. I’ve gone to the same dentist my entire life. I guess I was spoiled, because I’d never had an unpleasant visit. I visited a new dentist in my new city, but it was horrible. He was quite rough. Like brought tears to my eyes rough. Now I’ve had a filling come out. I really can’t bear the idea of going back to him, but realize I can’t very well just leave the filling out. I filled a prescription earlier in the week and did some wandering around the shop while waiting. I saw some dental filling material at my pharmacy. Would that suffice?  I could fill the gap and not have to visit Attila the Dentist.

Elizabeth F. – South Dakota


I’m sorry you’ve had a negative experience, especially after years of such pleasant visits. Don’t lose hope. You’re not condemned to a lifetime of sadistic dental care.  You’ll just have to find a different dentist. In your place, I’d do a Google search for a “Gentle Dentist“. You might have more success finding a dentist more like the dentist you grew up with.

As far as the filling that fell out, the filling paste you found in the drug store is meant to be temporary. You can use it for about three days. That should give you some time to locate another dentist. If you tell them about your filling, they’ll treat it as an emergency appointment and likely even get you in that day.

The good news is you’ll get a feel for the dentist pretty quickly. If you like him, voila! you’ve found your new dentist.

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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.