Admit it. The whir of a dental drill isn’t the most reassuring of sounds. And for some patients with extreme dental anxiety the moment they hear they need a filling might be the last time you see them in your office.
So what can you do to help lessen the chance your anxious patients will have to “go under the drill”?
Extend fluoride prevention treatments beyond childhood!
While there are many theories about how fluoride helps prevent tooth decay, one of the most commonly accepted is that it draws out phosphate and calcium in the enamel, which boosts teeth’s natural healing process and helps resist decay. Other theories about fluoride’s ability to prevent decay include it attacking acid-producing bacteria and making it harder for bacteria to stick to the tooth surface.
An easy way to do this is to offer patients an in-office fluoride varnish treatment. You’ll only have to extend their appointment by a few minutes for application, and they’ll leave knowing that the fluoride will help prevent possible cavities. It’s a win-win.
And for further prevention you can recommend fluoride toothpaste or prescribe a stronger fluoride gel.
After all, while fillings are the best way to treat advanced dental decay, they do nothing to prevent or slow down the process. Fluoride treatments, on the other hand, actively work against the decay process, putting patients on a better path for overall dental health.
In the end, it comes down to doing what’s best for your patients. If they have caries that need filling absolutely bust out that drill to prevent the decay from getting worse. But then be sure to mention fluoride treatments can be a great ally in the fight against future decay.
(Oh, and brushing and flossing never hurt anyone either. Or so I’ve heard.)