The Tooth - (True) Stories of Our Patients
(Please note that we’ve changed some of the patients’ details to protect their privacy.)
Last visit to dentist: 2 years ago
Kelly came to see us because she was concerned about her crooked teeth. They were affecting her smile, self-confidence and oral health. (Crooked teeth are harder to clean and therefore more susceptible to periodontal disease.) She’d been thinking about having her teeth straightened, but she was self-conscious about wearing visible fixed braces. Kelly had heard about Invisalign but knew little about it.
Dr Debbie met with Kelly to discuss her needs and concerns. She encouraged Kelly to ask questions and she took plenty of time to provide careful and comprehensive answers. For example, she explained what Invisalign is and how it works, and gave a comparison between Invisalign and traditional fixed braces. She outlined the costs and gave information about insurance cover. Dr Debbie also clarified Kelly’s expectations to ensure she clearly understood Kelly’s needs. She then performed a comprehensive oral examination, and took photos of Kelly’s teeth to assess whether Invisalign would be the best treatment for her. It turned out that Kelly was a good candidate for Invisalign. Using Invisalign 3D technology, Dr Debbie was able to show Kelly how the end result of the orthodontic work would look, before commencing the treatment.
Kelly was very excited about Invisalign and completed the treatment in 12 months. She was really impressed and happy to see the result—a set of straight teeth and a confident, beaming smile!
Last visit to dentist: 1 year ago
Nancy is a 92-year-old lady who is very bubbly and cheerful. Despite her age, she has good oral health and she enjoys eating a varied diet. She came to see us because her two front teeth were badly broken after biting on hard food. Nancy had heard about crowns and wondered whether she could have these applied to protect her two broken front teeth.
Dr Debbie was a little surprised to hear the elderly woman’s request. She asked Nancy about her motivations for wanting crowns while taking note of her general and dental health history. She then assessed whether Nancy’s teeth were suitable for crown placement and whether crowns were the best treatment choice. After a comprehensive examination, Dr Debbie offered Nancy an alternative option which was much more suitable for her case—a CEREC porcelain crown (CEramic REConstruction). Her recommendation took into consideration Nancy’s age and energy level as well as the cost effectiveness of the procedure. A normal crown would require two visits (appointments) and be more costly. The CEREC porcelain crown needs only one visit, is more cost effective and the result is comparable to a full crown. Nancy was very happy with the suggestion and she proceeded with CEREC porcelain crown.
Nancy continues to enjoy trying all kinds of new foods with stronger teeth! We also helped her save money and time by using the CEREC technology.
Last visit to dentist: 2+ years ago
Julie’s (Jack’s mother) concerns
Jack’s mother, Julie, brought Jack for his first dental check-up. She said that Jack likes to eat lollies and does not like to brush his teeth. She was concerned that Jack might have a cavity.
When Jack met Dr Debbie for the first time, he clung to his mother and didn’t want to make eye contact or engage in any conversation. Julie was upset and apologetic because she really wanted Jack to have his dental check-up. Dr Debbie reassured Julie that Jack’s response was very common. Rather than coerce Jack to have the check-up, Dr Debbie sat next to Jack in the Reception area and had a short chat with him. She introduced herself, then showed him the treatment room and a few of the interesting pieces of equipment on the dental chair. After a while, Jack started to feel more relaxed, but he still refused to open his mouth for the check-up. Dr Debbie knew it was really important for children (and adults) to have a positive experience during their first dental visit. One of the common reasons why so many adults are nervous about seeing a dentist is due to unpleasant early dental experiences.
In consultation with Julie, Dr Debbie decided to call it a day and arrange another appointment for Jack. She gave Jack a sticker, praised him for his good behaviour and told him she would see him again. She told Jack that next time she would show him the ‘magical chair’.
At his second appointment, Jack was still a little reserved but he remembered Dr Debbie’s name and the ‘magical chair’! Dr Debbie had another chat with him and asked him whether he would like to see the chair. Jack nodded his head and he held both Julie and Dr Debbie’s hand as he walked into the treatment room.
Debbie showed Jack the ‘magical chair’ (dental chair) and asked whether he would like to go for a ride. Jack looked at Julie to seek her permission. Julie smiled and gave him a big thumbs up. Jack immediately hopped onto the chair and, with Dr Debbie’s ‘magical instructions’, the chair suddenly but gradually moved up and down! Jack was thrilled and started giggling and laughing.
The good news? Dr Debbie successfully built trust with Jack which enabled her to complete his check-up. The bad news? Jack did have small cavities. Now, after a few appointments, he is cavity-free (and getting into the habit of brushing)!
Last visit to dentist: >10 years ago
Like many patients, Jason felt nervous about seeing a dentist. He had a particularly strong fear of the needle (anaesthetic injection) due to his unpleasant dental experiences as a child, which involved multiple fillings. As a result, he avoided the dentist for over 10 years. He came to us because he had a toothache. Jason appeared to be nervous when he met Dr Debbie. Not only he was anxious about receiving an injection, he was also worried about being told off for not seeing a dentist for so long, and for not looking after his oral health.
Dr Debbie greeted Jason at the Reception area and ushered him into the treatment room. She introduced Poonam, her Dental Assistant, to Jason so that he would know who was looking after him. Poonam greeted Jason and welcomed him. Dr Debbie then sat next to Jason and started building rapport with him. She did not ask Jason to lie down on the dental chair straight away. She had a social chat with Jason, got to know him, heard about his past dental history, the reasons for his visit and his dental needs and concerns. She also acknowledged and normalised some common dental fears that most people experience. She did not judge or lecture Jason for ignoring his oral health for many years. She empathised with Jason, and understood the many hurdles that prevent people from seeing a dentist.
Throughout the conversation, Dr Debbie took time to answer Jason’s questions while she addressed his concerns. Her gentle nature and caring approach significantly reduced Jason’s anxiety and nervousness. When Jason was ready, she used X-rays and an intra-oral camera to do a comprehensive oral examination to identify the causes of his toothache. She checked in with Jason regularly to see how he was doing, and made sure he was comfortable and in control at all times.
Examination revealed multiple cavities which required filling under local anaesthetic. Dr Debbie sat Jason up as she explained what was needed. She showed him the photos she had taken using the intra-oral camera so that he could see the deep cavities and the status of his oral health. This, in turn, helped Jason understand what was going on in his mouth and therefore make an educated and informed decision about what he would like to do next.
Dr Debbie helped Jason to clarify the pros and cons for each treatment option, and enabled him to make decisions about what he was comfortable with. Jason decided to have fillings for his cavities, but he remained nervous about the anaesthetic injection. Jason was reassured that he would be able to distract himself by wiggling his toes and taking slow, deep breaths through his nose while the anaesthetic was being given. Dr Debbie mentioned that topical anaesthetic would first be applied on the soft tissue to reduce the ‘needle prick’ sensation. After waiting for a few seconds, the injection was administered very slowly while Jason was focused on his distraction techniques.Jason was very surprised and impressed with how carefully the
anaesthetic was administered—Dr Debbie was gentle, skilful, and quick. He reported feeling hardly anything when the needle went through the soft tissue. Once again, Dr Debbie kept Jason informed throughout the filling procedures so that he was aware of what was happening, had the ability to communicate, and had control over the pace of the treatment process. She also gave Jason multiple breaks in between the fillings to ensure he always felt comfortable and in control.
Jason no longer had the toothache and cavities. His dental visit was a very positive experience and he no longer dreaded needles. He said he couldn’t believe how gentle the anaesthetic administration was. His attitude changed from, “I hate seeing a dentist” to “I love my dentist”.