Home » Rambles » Keep the patient happy and comfortable – especially at a dentist’s office.

Keep the patient happy and comfortable – especially at a dentist’s office.

Dentist chairs need to be way more comfortable. This is a time of extreme discomfort. Whatever they can do to make you feel at ease is a good idea.

How about a support for my knees? How about a wider chair? Basically, how about a recliner, but in a cleanable fabric. Because sometimes dental work can get messy, and stains don’t inspire confidence. I’m pretty sure a dentist would hate to have to get a whole new chair because of slobber. So there has to be some balance between comfort and cleanability.

Having a small beanbag for a pillow is nice, as well as a blanket. Arm supports that cradle your arms are essential. Well, I had one of those, but a girl can dream. Making sure your patient is comfortable will ensure that your patient is easy to work on. My chiropractor seems to be the only person who understands this. Very few doctors seem to get how important it is to put their patients at ease by using soft colors and lights, and nice furnishings.

I dislike going to the dentist for fillings. I don’t know anybody who does like it to be honest. It is really an invasion of space. The majority of your sense organs are right there where they are working, and what they are doing isn’t that awesome.

For somebody with sensory processing disorder it can be a bit overwhelming.

Feeling the pinch in my gums and the tugging on my cheek when he gives me the shot. Hearing the sound of the drill. Seeing the spray of powder from my tooth when he drills. Smelling the burning from said tooth being drilled. All senses are being engaged, and none of them are getting good signals to work with.

I see and hear and smell things very deeply. This is part of why I am an artist. But it is also why it is hard to deal with really intense experiences like going to the dentist.

I’ve brought my phone. I can write in between bits. I can listen to a podcast during. I know a bit about meditation. Maybe some yoga practice will help.

I had a dentist when I was growing up who didn’t use anesthesia. He thought he didn’t need to. He thought he was gentle and careful. For the most part he was. But just being tense, worrying about the possibility of being hurt, was pretty bad. That alone made me never want to go back to the dentist, until not going really wasn’t an option anymore. My first trip back involved a root canal.

But at least that dentist had something interesting to look at. He had a mural on the wall that I was facing that had a huge scene. All these people doing all these things. It was kind of like the blue and white Chinese pottery called “Blue Willow”. I could get lost in it. I did. I had to. It was there that I learned to dissociate, to just not be there when something bad was going on.

My current dentist is very gentle and he uses anesthesia, but his rooms are really boring. There’s nothing to stare at or to fall in to with my mind. Today I found a spot of light shining through the blinds. It was something. The assistant kept asking me if I was OK. Yeah – until you had to bring me back to thinking about what is going on…

I’ve learned that bringing my iPhone helps. I listen to a podcast while it is all going on and that not only does that cut out the noise of the drill, my mind is occupied with something educational. I’ve also learned to consciously relax a lot. I mean a lot because I have to keep reminding myself to do it. I keep tensing up so I have to keep relaxing. Normally I’d work on my breathing, but that isn’t easy there. Too many bad smells.

In the meantime, I’ll keep brushing three times a day. The cavity that developed was around an old filling. It had lasted a long time. It was an old mercury filling so I was glad to see it go anyway. For a long time I was an old pro at getting fillings. It was so normal to me. Every time I’d go to the dentist I’d have to get a filling. Fortunately I’ve learned how to eat better and take better care of myself, so fillings aren’t my norm anymore. But I still think that the whole experience could be made better.

Maybe I need to get my chiropractor to talk to my dentist. Mood lighting is a good start. And no news or tabloid junk on the TV in the waiting room. And a nice welcoming paint job on the walls…or a mural. Yeah, that. Something to get lost in. I kind of miss that mural. I sure don’t miss that dentist.

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