When asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up,” most children don’t say, “a dentist.” Let’s face it, many people, and I mean many, have a love-hate relationship with their dentist. And that’s pretty sad because it takes a special kind of person to stare into a person’s mouth – breath and all – all day long.
Most of the dentists I have had the pleasure of meeting were actually pretty darn nice. Like, you can actually visualize yourself hanging out with them, kind of nice. And you’d believe that too if you weren’t sitting in the dentist’s chair with a dental dam in your mouth and a drill pointed in your direction. Or perhaps it would have been better for the dentist to have taken some time to get to know you before pointing said drill in your direction. That’s what Dr. Andy Engel (Dr. Andy) does – not point the drill but spend some time getting to know you. In fact – he has his staff book extra time to get to know his patients. Do you ski? Do you like motorcycles? Do you breathe? He’s your guy.
For many, going to the dentist can be scary and unnerving. One reason is that we have NO idea what’s happening inside our mouths. Well, maybe we do, but that’s often when a small problem has gone south and turned into a nightmare of an issue. But really, that’s not the dentist’s fault. We, as a society, have to take some responsibility.
So, what makes dentistry so darn scary? Well, I like going to the dentist. Let me rephrase that. I like going to the dentist when nothing is wrong. I had my fair share of cavities and even had a crown placed many moons ago. But since I became an adult and began truly caring about my teeth, their appearance, and my breath, big issues haven’t been something I have had to deal with. And I sure do hope that it stays that way.
However, for millions of Americans, dentistry is scary. The thought of walking into the dentist’s office can send goosebumps and shivers down the spines of more people than you’d imagine. Part of the problem is that dentistry was just different in the past. When I think of scary dentistry, I imagine the movie, Little Shop of Horrors with Steve Martin as the dentist and Bill Murray as the pain-loving patient, shrieking in delight during his treatment. If you aren’t familiar with the scene, stop reading this and do a quick Google search for it – it’s just over four minutes of hilarity. But be sure to come back and finish this blog.
While dentistry isn’t like this, many people you see daily have had terrifying experiences with their dentists as a child and even as an adult. Sadly, these people struggle with a bit of PTSD when it comes to dentistry. Shoot, some people have downright panic attacks. So, they avoid the dentist until they have to go – and some avoid it altogether. And as mentioned earlier, the problem that could have easily been addressed if they had regular dental exams and cleanings is now a more significant problem requiring more dental work and money to fix.
We have many options when choosing a dentist in Bend, OR. But dentists aren’t all the same. They are humans – despite your fears telling you otherwise. They have different personalities, training, and opinions on what should be done and how. The dentist that graduated top in their class will have a better understanding of all things dentistry than the one that graduated at the bottom. They also have different chairside manners. Some get to business with little chit-chat, and others want to talk. I personally prefer the dentist who has an interest in getting to know me. In this day and age, when it seems we’re all starving for attention and compassion, having a healthcare provider who genuinely shows interest in me is pure gold. That’s why Dr. Andy is my dentist.
The right dentist for you depends on your personality, history, and need for a bit of coddling. Many people terrified of dentists find that having one who talks about things unrelated to their oral health is calming. And I can tell you that there are dentists who want to know about you – your interests, history, and goals. My good friend, Dr. Andy Engel, is one of them. These dentists realize that taking the time to talk with patients about whatever interests them builds a connection and a certain level of trust that is critical to overcoming dental anxiety. And even if you aren’t terrified of the dentist, it is still pretty cool to have a dentist interested in more than your teeth.