As much as we enjoy seeing and helping our patients keep their teeth healthy, many people just don’t like to visit the dentist.
That was Amy’s situation. A bad dental experience she had as a teenager developed into a very real fear of ‘visiting the dentist’ and seeking dental care as an adult. In fact, her fear reached the point where she avoided seeing a dentist for quite a few years.
“Unfortunately, my teeth were literally falling out of my mouth,” Amy says, before a friend referred her to North Seattle Dental. “By the time I got to Dr. Pickel, I had two teeth that I had fillings on that needed implants. I needed crowns. I needed a lot of work.”
Thanks to a friendlier dental experience, Amy’s dental fears have subsided. To the point that she now actually says she looks forward to visiting the dentist. Amy has regained control of her oral health, her smile, and her trust in dental care.
Here’s a little Q&A with Amy regarding her journey with dental fears.
When did you first experience your dental fears?
I have had a fear of visiting the dentist for as long as I can remember. I’m a person who suffered from significant dental fears after a few traumatizing experiences with a previous dentist I had seen since I was a kid. I had an experience with Novocain, and it was just a really scary experience for me because the dentist didn’t have any empathy. He didn’t have any understanding that I was freaking out.
How did your dental visit with Dr. Pickel compare?
The experience was night and day. I can’t even stress how easy it was. From the first time I saw Dr. Chris Pickel I explained to him – I said, Look, I’m going to be that patient that comes in and has a full body sweat every time I see you. Cold sweat, hating it, asking every question, avoiding every treatment, because of this experience. It just added to this fear that I had. And he was not fazed by it. He was like bring it on, let’s see how we can make this something that changes over your lifetime, so that you have a better experience. At that time, my teeth needed a lot of work, so I think he knew that and he was like, I need to get you in a place where we can get taken care of before your mouth is too far gone for you to fix.
Have your dental fears subsided since visiting Dr. Pickel & NSD?
1,000%! Since I started seeing Dr. Pickel and the team at North Seattle Dental my fears have subsided. I still get a little cold sweat when I go in, but what they’ve done for me is amazing. I’ve needed a lot of dental work done, so over the years it’s become a running joke of how I used to come in and have this kind of look on my face of fear and worry. And now I come in and I’m on a first name basis. I’m happy to be there. I’m happy to see them. I know that my smile is what it is because of them, and I know that the structure of my teeth, which ultimately I think is more important than the cosmetic piece of it, have been so taken care of so that I will have this smile for years to come. I wasn’t in a position prior to my fears to get that accomplished because I simply wasn’t going to the dentist.
How do Dr. Pickel and the staff at North Seattle help you feel more comfortable during your dental visits and treatments?
From the minute that I walked into North Seattle Dental, I felt welcome from the front staff to the hygienist to his dental assistants, everybody there seemed to understand that maybe the dentist isn’t the favorite place that people want to be all the time. It really was their mission to make me feel like I was at home, that I was welcome. That I had no bad questions, or no fears that weren’t realistic.
They understood that dental fears are a real thing and that their goal is to make me feel good, and comfortable. Whether that was just letting me ask 62,000 questions, because that’s how I calm myself down. Whether it was stopping during procedures to ask questions, whether it was pre meds, which are also an option for people. It wasn’t my option. I’m a control freak, so I needed to know what was happening. But for some people to go in and feel more relaxed, that’s an option, which is great.
Just to understand that they’re there for me. I can’t even tell you the amount of times that Emily and Gwen held my hand, while it’s sweating and cold, and saying, ‘I’m here for you’, or ‘are you Okay? We’re gonna get through this together.’ And for me, that’s just like, anything you could ever ask from a professional.
How would other patients suffering from dental fears benefit from visiting NSD?
It’s all the little tiny things that really add up that make you feel like they’re taking care of you as a person and not just another patient.
They make you feel welcome. They make you feel like you’re part of the family. From the minute you call. It’s usually Lynn that answers the phone, and she’s fabulous. She will tell you, I’m here to help you work with your schedule. So that’s step one, there’s no pressure, they’re there for you on your terms.
Then when you come in for your visit, it’s just a warm, inviting office. The office space feels good. When you get back to the chair, they offer a television screen to watch, you can put headphones on all of these things, which can really help you relax. If you need a warm blanket, they’ve got those.
Once Dr. Pickel comes in, he really sits down and listens to you. He takes the time. There isn’t a rushed feeling during your appointment. There isn’t a question that you can ask that he’s not going to understand and answer. And if you’re not comfortable with it, he can walk you through options. There are things that you can try differently. Maybe if you had an experience with something in the past that didn’t make you comfortable he would be willing to try something different. And so you feel like you’re working together as a team on your oral health.
You Can Rely on Us for a Better Dental Experience
Do you have a fear of visiting the dentist? You’re not alone. About 40 million Americans do their best to postpone or avoid their dental visits because of dental anxiety and dental phobia. Unfortunately, when fear prevents you from regularly seeing a dentist, it also increases your chance for gum disease, early tooth loss, and can negatively impact your overall health.
Our dentists and dental staff are here to ensure that you have the most comfortable, painless dental visit possible. And we’re also here to help you keep your teeth, gums and smile healthy for life. That’s our job. If you need a little extra TLC when you schedule your visit with us, please let us know – just call us at (206) 524-1000 or when you schedule online.