Linda G. Hill

Life in progress

Bedside Manner at the Dentist

61 Comments

I need your opinion on an important matter. First, the back-story.

Earlier this year I went to the dentist. I don’t like the dentist – this is something you need to know to truly understand where I’m coming from. In fact, “don’t like” is really a mild way of saying I’m a wuss.

It was my first time at this particular dentist and my first time in a long time at any dentist. I needed a filling. It all started great but then the dentist noticed my tooth was cracked. It needed some special attention. I, being who I am, let the dentist know in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t happy about what he was doing in my mouth. Suffice to say I said, “ouch” a few times.

It had already been determined that I needed two more fillings on the other side. The dentist suggested, quite strongly, that I should go to another dentist and get a general anaesthetic. I told him fine, I’d check and see how much it would cost.

Whoa.

So, I went back to the first dentist (to get a cleaning this time) and when I saw him I told him that I wanted him to do the other two fillings. He didn’t think this was a wise choice.

“But I can’t afford a general anaesthesia,” I told him.

“Well, you were in a lot of discomfort last time,” he said. “And besides, we have the other patients to consider…”

The other patients? I didn’t think I was that loud.

Dentists, even ones who don’t put you under, are expensive. The cleaning alone cost me hundreds of dollars, not to mention the fillings which were more costly. So here’s where your opinion comes in:

A) If you’re emptying your wallet at the dentist, do you have the right to be as loud as you want?

or

B) If you’re emptying your wallet at the dentist, do you have the right to a peaceful visit without someone in the next room wailing like a banshee/complaining that the dentist is trying to kill her/saying ouch?

or

C) Would you trust a dentist who had separate soundproof rooms?

or

D) All of the above.

or

E) None of the above.

Here’s a poll:

Please vote and add your two cents (or five, if you’re Canadian) in the comments. I need an answer to this conundrum!

Author: LindaGHill

There's a writer in here, clawing her way out.

61 thoughts on “Bedside Manner at the Dentist

  1. If you’re emptying your wallet, you should make as much noise as you need to. Everyone else can deal with it. And I would NOT trust a dentist with soundproof rooms.

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  2. Didn’t read all the comments, because I couldn’t bear the pain of reading more about sadist dentists! πŸ™‚ So if a repeat, sorry, but bottom line – Find a Dentist who Gives a Rat’s Arse about you as a patient – if you can….LOL

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  3. When I had my wisdom teeth out the anesthetic turned me into a blathering bloody mess. I couldn’t stop talking and crying and consequently my mouth was dripping blood from the stress I was putting on the fresh stitches. I thought I was a regular comedienne. So they put me in a private room and then after 30 minutes of monitoring I was ushered out the back door of the building and into the waiting car (like a criminal being ushered to the waiting patrol vehicle!). The reason? To keep people in the waiting room from seeing and hearing me. Was kinda’ hilarious really. Ultimately, I think there’s something to be said for the mindset and well being of the other clients/patients at a clinic.

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  4. It seems odd that your dentist can’t deal with your pain Linda. I would suggest changing dentists.

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  5. Whoa, if hand holding results in screaming, you might want to either loosen the grip or trim those nails.

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  6. I hate needles, but once I get through the novacaine shot, I usually don’t feel much pain. I had two wisdom teeth pulled with novacaine and there was pain afterward, but it wasn’t horrible. Maybe it helps that I love my dentist. He’s just a sweetheart. I’ve been going to him for many years. Maybe I missed something, but I’m not clear why you don’t like your particular dentist. Is there something about his personality? His tone of voice? Does “quite strongly” mean he raised his voice at you? I’m just curious. Those things are very important to me. If I’m not comfortable with a doctor/dentist’s personality, if I don’t feel respected, I’m not going back. I definitely think you need a new dentist. Ask friends for recommendations. And shop around for some dental insurance, it might be worth it. Best wishes in finding a dentist you are comfortable with.

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    • Thanks, JoAnne. The dentist I have made me feel like he was berating me like a child for making too much noise and scaring the other patients. It was a little demeaning. And yeah, I think I’ll look for another dentist. Glad to hear you have a great one! πŸ™‚

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  7. I will say two things about this, after I inform you that I, also, am a dental coward.
    First, there are dentist who will give oral sedation, I’ve had it and it works. The only drawback is that you have to have someone to drive you home, it will be hours before you recognize the person in the mirror.
    Second, where I live the university dental school has a dental clinic, prices are cheap! And a professor overseas the entire process.

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    • I’m afraid I’m more of a coward than you are. πŸ˜› First, I can’t stand the idea of not being in control of my faculties – I don’t think I could go for oral sedation, and second … you’d actually let someone practice on your teeth? I wonder if the inexpensiveness of a dental school would offset the cost of a professional anaesthesiologist? Now there’s a thought.
      Thanks for your comment! πŸ™‚

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  8. I don’t like the dentist or their assistants. Scream as loud as you can to warn the other patients before they sit in the dentist chair. Plus it’s your right after spending all of your money for pain and suffering!

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  9. Our system is you need attention they numb you whether or not you object or not. In fact the dentists I have been to have a no pain policy and I have had all sorts of procedures. Though when a beautiful South American lady dentist appears and stands close enough you tend forget the pain potential……the pain comes when you get home and the numbing stops numbing.

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  10. Good gravy. You need a new dentist. One who begins with numbing jelly and then freely administers gas, then injections. I don’t do the gas, because I have a worse reaction to feeling high than being in pain, but many people benefit from it. I am an experienced dental goer, with genetically bad teeth and have had almost every procedure possible with frequent bad reactions. I’ve uttered a thousand swears while in the chair, no one has ever said boo. They stop, they ask if I need a break.
    I think it’s just like the doctor’s office. I yelped during biopsies and many people cry when they get shots. Sissy and Moo both cried loudly when they had a stubborn baby tooth pulled. (Plus babies just cry when you undress them and they’re cold! lol) It’s necessary for health, so if you need to holler, that’s just who you are.
    I’d love to have sedation dentistry, but I can’t afford it, either. I’m sure there’s a better dentist out there!
    New dentist.

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    • I’m kind of afraid of the gas – I hate not having my wits about me. And it’s hard to find someone to drive me to the dentist and back anyway. But I did get the numbing gel and about half a bucketful of novocaine – didn’t help.
      So I’ll yell I guess. And if they don’t like it I’ll remind them I don’t like it when they yell at me for non-payment. πŸ˜› Until I get a new dentist of course. πŸ™‚

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  11. I agree with the other commenters that a good dentist does not cause excessive pain, especially for something like a filling. My regular dentist pulled a tooth using just novacaine, and I hardly felt it (just a tug, although a prolonged tug). However, one of the younger dentists in the same office caused me a great deal of pain just filling a back tooth – and did a crappy job of it besides.

    As for yelling out, while I think that’s probably your right, it might be a good idea (once you get a good dentist, of course) to ask them to put your appointment into the last slot of the day so that all the other patients will likely be gone by the time your work starts.

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    • I could never have a tooth pulled whilst awake – fillings always hurt me, no matter who the dentist is. And I was completely loaded with novocaine too. Having the final appointment of the day makes sense. As long as I have a babysitter. It’s much easier for me to go when the kids are at school. πŸ˜›

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  12. I hate the dentist as well. You are entitled to scream in my opinion! πŸ™‚

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  13. Space is a good place for dentists!

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  14. My mom is a dental surgeon πŸ˜› So far, noisy patients are not what she really has complained about. People EXPECT pain and torture when they visit the dentist – plus costs in India aren’t really too high. So… Needless to say, I will be sharing this with my mom!

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  15. Perhaps to prevent screaming, there are two places where you need them to administer the anesthetic. In the dentist’s office, and at the mailbox where you receive your bill.

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  16. I’ve already written a dental trilogy, so I understand what you’re going through. If your dentist suggests you consult a dental surgeon, it might be worth your while to explore that option, despite the expense. I was knocked out for removal of my wisdom teeth many years ago, and recommend it highly. That being said, a regular dentist should be able to get you through most procedures with a minimum of pain, but you need to be able to distinguish between true pain and discomfort or anxiety. And I think any dentist would be justified in having misgivings about a patient whose reactions might be causing stress on other patients. If that’s the case, it might be possible to schedule an appointment when you are the only patient there.

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    • I’m not sure what it is, but they never seem to be able to get all the nerves, no matter how many injections of novocaine I get. Hitting a nerve makes me jump – I can’t help it. But not having a source of income leaves me pretty much at their mercy – it’s have the dentist do it or don’t do it at all. There’s no choice in the matter.
      Being the final patient of the day may be the best idea. πŸ™‚

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  17. Even though I’m not afraid of going to the dentist, if I heard someone screaming I think I’d leave. Aside from that, maybe a new dentist would be worth checking out. Just having one who is a more compassionate may be all the change you need.

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  18. Ha! “Bedside manners and dentists,” sounds terribly kinky. It has gotten really expensive, so if you’re single, perhaps finding a cute dentist with a good bedside manner really is your best bet.

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  19. Your dentist should be able to get through the procedure with you feeling little or no pain. Discomfort, i.e. the fact that some guy has his hands in your mouth up to his elbow, maybe, but not pain. My dentist can shoot you up with all kinds of stuff. Maybe you need a new dentist.

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  20. I have been going to the same dentist since 1989 because on my first visit, he gave me one shot of novocaine and when I said ouch, he gave me another shot of it. When I said ouch again, he gave me another shot. He must have noted my sensitivity in my chart, because on every visit since then, he gives me more than the usual dose of novocaine at the start. Maybe you just need that? I am one who tends to express pain vocally, like you. Maybe this dentist’s ego cannot handle that. I hope you can find a more sensitive dentist who doesn’t want to use general anesthesia. Peace.

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    • Thanks, Gloria. I was actually fully loaded with novocaine – it didn’t help. The nerve was just too deep. I suspect the other fillings won’t be as invasive – but as you say, the dentist wasn’t really sensitive. I should probably look for another one.

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  21. Get a new dentist. I have good dental insurance, so my cleanings are free every six months and my fillings are about $26 a pop.. so it’s not a huge deal for me, but my dentist is also awesome. I’m not much of a wuss but I’ve been told I’m one of 2% of the population who has an extra nerve that runs through my lower jaw that makes it almost impossible to numb all the way when I get teeth pulled/filled. Still, I cringe maybe once or twice when I get my teeth filled–never scream. My doc is very thorough with his anesthesia and sends his patients to another dentist for teeth pulling (who is spectacular.. I got four molars pulled at once, broke my jaw, and didn’t feel a thing). If you’re screaming getting your teeth filled, your dentist isn’t very good. I’d check out another one who may be kinder and more thorough.

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    • I wasn’t screaming, that’s what really gets me. I might have said ouch once or twice loudly… I think he gave me the maximum amount of novacaine that’s allowed too, so maybe I’m in the 2% with you. πŸ˜› As for having teeth pulled, I’d never consider doing it unless I was under a general. No way.
      You’re probably right though – I need to look for another dentist.

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  22. When at at the dentist, anything goes! I’m shocked at the prices you pay. You can certainly scream at that!

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  23. So my cleanings are $100. Fillings are like $200? I’ve only had one. He can do general anesthetics, and I felt nothing. So, would it be cheaper for you to drive to Milwaukee to get it done? πŸ˜›

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