Pushing for pain-free dentistry

Oct. 1, 2000
I was moved to write this letter after reading Dr. Jeff Wilcox`s words in the "Letters" section of the July issue of Dental Economics.

Barry F. McArdle, DMD

Portsmouth, N.H.

I was moved to write this letter after reading Dr. Jeff Wilcox`s words in the "Letters" section of the July issue of Dental Economics.

I, too, thought Dr. Mansky`s article in the May issue of Dental Economics missed the mark. While the author`s theory of dental anxiety may have been an interesting intellectual exercise, I believe Dr. Wilcox`s version of dentalphobia is a much truer reflection of why dentists face fearful patients.

My dentist didn`t use "Novocaine" when he did my "fillings" as a child. Is it any wonder then that I cringed every time my mother told me I had a dental appointment until I learned it was "only for a cleaning?" This apprehension had nothing to do with the dentist as an authority figure or any invasion of my space. It did have to do with abuse - this dentist hurt me needlessly. I didn`t know that you were supposed to use local anesthesia to place restorations until I attended dental school; then my opinion of this dentist became that much lower.

I no longer fear invasive dental treatment. My current dentist is a wonderful person; she is not only technically excellent, but she makes sure that I am numb! However, I fully understand the anxieties of my patients, and I let them know that they are perfectly justified in their fears based on previous painful experiences with dental care. I relate my past history of dental care to them, and I tell them that I made an important discovery in dental school - people do not like to be hurt! This is the reason, more than any other, why only 50 percent of our population seeks regular dental care.

The standard of care that all dentists should maintain is to cause the least amount of pain as humanly possible. No discomfort whatsoever is the ideal that we all should continually strive for every day. It is obvious that Dr. Wilcox`s patients are very lucky to have him as their dentist.