As a dentist, the first thing a lot of patients tell us is:
“I’m sorry but I hate you”, “nothing personal but I just hate dentists”.
It’s hard not to take that personally! We understand that there is a deep-rooted fear of the dentists that has been perpetuated for centuries. Really, when you think about it now, are we really so hateful in our current form?
Most kids and young adults we see nowadays, are perfectly comfortable coming to the dentist. I’ve never heard them say, “I hate the dentist!”
So why do so many older adults hate the dentist?
1) Bad experience when younger
2) Perceived pain
The best way to get over the fear or a bad experience is to come in and find a dentist you are comfortable with. Take things slowly – start with a check-up and then go on from there – be honest with what you are worried about. It helps us immensely so we can make your visit a lot easier for you. The worst thing you can do if you are nervous, is nothing! Then by the time there is a problem, it becomes a very difficult one instead of a small one.
No one likes pain. Again, the best way to ensure there is no pain is to come before you have a major problem. Most times when teeth cause a lot of pain is usually when there’s a bad infection, and hence anesthetics do not work as effectively. This means we still need to get you out of pain but it makes it more difficult. So please come in as soon as a tooth is niggly, rather than waiting for a full blown toothache! Most of the time we can get you in within the same day!
In terms of cost, unfortunately dentistry is expensive. Every material we use is expensive and compared to a GP or another allied health practice, dental clinics have the highest running costs. The amount of regulation and sterilisation which ensure that clinics run at a high standard comes with a high cost as well. Since there are no Medicare benefits paid, there is no subsided treatment available (except for some eligible children).
For example, a hip replacement at a hospital may not cost you much at a public hospital, but it actually costs the government and hospital a few thousand – tens of thousands of dollars. Every time you visit a GP, it costs a fair amount to the government but not to you. A GP practice also has very minimal running costs compared to a dental practice. So if you view dental, it is a health care environment where treatment is done with modern equipment and high end materials with no subsidies* that will explain some of the costs. If cost is an issue, there are ways we can help. We do offer payment plans in association with SmileChoice, Denticare or MacCredit so there is always an option available. So next time you come, hopefully you won’t say you hate us!