A bad dental experience at an early age, created a life long fear of visiting the dentist for Tori, until she found our dental practice. Through a combination of communication, good listening, and a little extra TLC, we’ve been able to help Tori feel more comfortable about visiting the dentist, and sharing her smile again.
Tori shares her experience with dental anxiety. By feeling more safe and comfortable in a dental environment, she has taken control of her on-going dental care.
When did you first experience dental anxiety, and what lead to this fear?
I was pretty young, probably around eight. It centered around a dentist not listening, when I told him that I could still feel what he was doing. That’s probably the catalyst for what’s left me with years and years of being terrified of the dentist.
I grew up in a lower income family, so we didn’t have a lot of exposure to a dentist. The first time I was really able to see a dentist, I don’t know that it was probably the best dentist for a young person, who had never been to a dentist before. He ended up drilling when I could still feel it, and he didn’t listen to me when I was telling him I could feel what was happening. It was pretty excruciating pain. From that point forward, I was terrified of going to the dentist.
Would you do certain things to avoid seeing the dentist?
Absolutely! I was in the Navy for about four years. During that time, you’re required to have annual visits with the dentist, but I didn’t go anytime that I was not absolutely forced to go. For a long time, my dental health was put on the back burner because I was too afraid to go.
When you first met with Dr. Bill Gilbert did you communicate to him and his staff that you had dental fears?
I think that was probably the biggest relief. I didn’t have to do a lot of explaining. Dr. Gilbert just asked a very simple question as to whether I had some fear or anxiety around dental work. I said yes, and that was pretty much it.
I don’t know if it’s years and years of experience or if it’s intuitive, but Dr. Gilbert is really good about explaining to me everything that he’s doing, like touching my face here. He communicates that to me. Any dental work that we’re going through, he’s making sure to explain it step by step. That’s one of the biggest things that has helped me continue to go back for dental care.
Are there certain things about his office that you find comforting?
Chance (the practice’s therapy dog) is a big one, he’s very intuitive. He knows when you’re not feeling super calm and relaxed, so he’ll come and sit by your side and just kind of let you pet him. Also, the rest of Dr. Gilbert’s staff is just really friendly, very warm, very welcoming. They’re very knowledgeable and always want to make sure that you have the information that you need. I can’t speak highly enough about Cece and the great lengths that she will go to to make sure you understand all of the billing, how things are going to break down, so you have a clear idea of the cost associated with your dental care. They’ve really just been a godsend. I don’t know that I would be getting the dental care that I’ve been getting if I didn’t have a dentist like Dr. Gilbert and his staff.
If you were going to refer somebody else who had dental fears, what would you tell them about Dr. Gilbert to help them want to go see him?
Dr. Gilbert is very communicative, like when he’s going to touch me, or how he’s going to touch me. He explains what he’s going to be doing, and where I’m going to feel different things while he’s working in my mouth. Things like that were monumental for me. In referring anybody else to him, my biggest point is that he is very willing and very capable of communicating everything to you. He listens to you, and he is also going to do whatever is necessary to make sure that you’re as comfortable as you can be.
How do you feel regarding the health of your teeth, and your smile?
A person’s smile is one of the easiest indicators of what kind of income they’re experiencing. Oftentimes, people who are coming from lower income backgrounds don’t really have good dental health, because they’ve not had access to that type of care. That means discoloration or cavities and it becomes almost a source of shame. Even though it’s not necessarily something that I had the ability to control, it still kind of eats at you a little bit because it does create that sense of shame. I didn’t want people to see my teeth, and I didn’t want to smile. But Dr. Gilbert has kind of allowed me to take it back a little bit, so I am a little more proud of my smile. I’m much more proud of the confidence I have for just taking care of myself. It’s a boost to your self esteem that you get when you’re taking care of yourself in the manner you know you should be taking care of yourself, and not just procrastinating and letting your health slide.
It’s a level of confidence that I don’t even know if Dr. Gilbert ever had the intention of giving people, but he has, because he provides a safe and comfortable environment. Because of that, people are able to take on the reins of their dental care and make sure that they’re getting all the things they need.
If you suffer from dental fears or anxiety, you can rely on us for a more comforting, and pain-free dental experience. And when you schedule a consultation with us, please let us know about your any dental related fears or anxiety you might have. We’re here for you – just call us at (425) 957-4700 or request an appointment online!