“Visiting the dentist” has been a scary & fearful experience for Aurora. Even hearing the words “you have an upcoming dental appointment” created a lot of anxiousness for her. While Aurora still suffers from dental fears, she’s found that it’s easier to cope with her fears because she now has a dentist and dental care she can trust. For Aurora, that trust came from feeling heard, good communication from her dental team, pain-free dental care, and being in a comforting and relaxing dental environment.
Here’s a little Q&A with Aurora regarding her journey with dental anxiety.
What initiates your dental fear when you visit a dentist?
I have an initial fear of needles, what’s going into my mouth, and fear of the pain.
What are some ways Dr. Bill Gilbert help you with some of your dental fears and dental anxiety?
Because of my fear of needles, he wiggles my cheek to make sure that I can’t really feel any injection, so that helps a lot for me. He also talks me through it and lets me know what’s going to happen. And Chance the therapy dog is there! It’s really helpful having the dog there, because he’s an emotional support, helps with anxiety for me, and keeps me just calm through the procedure.
When did you first discover your dental anxiety?
I figured it out when I was around five or six. I went to another dentist to have silver caps placed on some teeth because I had really bad cavities. I remember waking up towards the end of the procedure when they were putting the silver caps on and having this weird contraption in my mouth to hold it open. That’s where it mostly started from.
Before you found Dr. Gilbert, what was it like for you when you’d hear “you have a dental appointment coming up”?
When my mom would tell me that we were going to the dentist, I would just have an intense fear and feel sick. I would get really sweaty, and would spend the whole day brushing my teeth, because I was really scared.
Why did you brush your teeth so much before your dental appointment?
I was hoping that if I brushed my teeth really well, they’d leave me alone a little bit, so they wouldn’t have to poke and prod as much.
Tell us about your visit with Dr. Gilbert?
When I first went in to see Dr. Gilbert, the first thing I noticed was the dog. And that made it a lot easier. It calmed my nerves. I was like, Oh, this place isn’t so bad. They have a dog here too. I mean, as a kid, that’s obviously the best place because there’s a dog working there! I watched my mom go first, so I could see what was going on because I was still pretty afraid.
How was Dr. Gilbert?
He’s so sweet. He will always make you feel comfortable. If you aren’t, and you are in the procedure, he will ask you to raise your hand to make sure that everything’s going alright. And if you aren’t, he’ll stop what he’s doing immediately. He’s made me feel so safe, like I’ve never felt safer anywhere in a dental place that I’ve been to.
What does he do to make you feel safe?
He’s great for making you feel more comfortable. Definitely making you feel heard, and if you’re feeling anxious you can talk to him before. He’ll always give you a conversation before you start to make sure you’re okay. If you need a little bit longer to calm down, he’ll always give you that time to prepare yourself. During treatments, if I’m getting a little nervous or anything, he’ll pull away and ask ‘Do you need a break, or anything?’ Unlike some other dentists where, in my opinion, it feels like they kind of rush you out.
He definitely makes you feel like you’re actually a person there, and he’s giving you care instead of just ‘Oh, you’re another person, customer, whatever, getting, keep your teeth clean’. He actually wants to see you get better.
What did you like about the atmosphere there?
It was beautiful. The view of trees, when you’re sitting in the chairs. You can see some squirrels climbing up the trees when you’re waiting. Sometimes you’ll see some birds and they’re so cute. I love watching nature.
Do you have any anxiety or fears when you have your teeth cleaned?
Teeth cleaning is not that super anxious feeling for me. It’s more like the drilling and the loud noises. For my teeth cleanings, It’s mostly about my gums because my gums are pretty sensitive. I always raise my hand at least a couple times and then they slow down a little bit, and they take their time.
Something else that you want to share?
I want to make sure that other people know that having a service dog in dentistry is really helpful. A few visits ago I had a lot of anxiety. Chance had to be put on me and that really helped calm me down because I was just shaking so badly. I asked Dr. Gilbert if he could put Chance on me, and said yes, but I needed to hold him because he hasn’t really been on anybody’s lap like that. It was really nice, coming back to earth a little bit from that scary, anxious feeling. It helped me to have something else to focus on.
And Chance stayed there with me. Dr. Gilbert told me like if you rub the inside of his ears, it would stop Chance from panting, but I liked the panting sound because it made me feel like I was still there and not dead. I don’t know why, but my brain anxiety just goes: you’re dead.
Sounds Like You Have a Special Connection with Chance!
He has a connection with everybody that comes in. He’ll just sit and wait for you to go past the front desk and head to the back where the chairs are. Then he’ll come over and sit at the little invisible fence and wag his tail and wait for you. He’s just the happiest dog, and I always give him pets and kisses when I walk in.
Looking for a more calming, comforting and pain-free dental experience? Whether you suffer from dental fears or anxiety, or you’re just looking for a friendlier dental experience, consider our team for your next dental visit. It’s worth the drive throughout the Seattle and Bellevue area! And when you schedule a consultation with us, please let us know if you have any dental related fears or anxiety. We’re here for you – just call us at (425) 957-4700 or request an appointment online!