Iíve long had a fear of visiting a dentist. Iíve never singled out any one dentist in particular for being responsible for this fear - in fact Iíve rarely had a bad experience whilst in the dentistís chair. Yet itís just something I decided a few years ago itís something Iíd rather not do. Irrational, I know. And foolish too. Dental surgeries have changed a lot recently - and Kuwaitís White Dental Centre is one of the very most modern. I figured it was about time to conquer my fear, and to pay the dentist a visit. Putting on a brave face and grinning my crooked-toothed smile, off I went.
MP: I think Iím not alone in a fear of dental work, what can you as modern-day dentists do to persuade me that itís safe to visit? As a child I visited every six months. I think that was a good thing. As an adult how often should I be coming?
WDC:Same thing. Every six months. This is the recommended period. Itís important to come for scaling, a hygiene appointment and check-up. As far as your fear goes, these days things just arenít as bad as they used to be. With the use of advanced anaesthesia techniques, and even simply through the environment we provide, a visit to the dentist is far removed from the way many people remember it.
MP: But itís still going to hurt?
WDC:Maybe, but even injections today are computer controlled. The pain comes from an uneven flow of anaesthetic in to the gum - when this is controlled by a computer there are no such issues.
Itís certainly true to say that the White Dental Centre looks nothing like the last dentist I visited. Much of the healthcare industry has upped its game and recognised that its patients (or as we are now more commonly called Ďclientsí) can make a choice and that they are these days indeed part of the service industry.
Of course, many people visit a dentist for other reasons than pain relief and, if used wisely and visited regularly, itís likely that a cause for major surgery will never arise.
WDC:Preventative maintenance is always a good thing. Many people think of their teeth as an isolated part of their body. The truth is that the teeth, the gums, the mouth are all connected to the whole body. Studies have shown that diseased gingiva (part of the soft tissue lining of the mouth) have been found in the heart valves of a patient. The mouth is full of bacteria - some good of course but some equally bad. Some oral bacteria have been shown to be associated with pneumonia, diabetes, and low birth-weight babies.
So, Iím beginning to learn that neglecting my teeth may have more of an impact on my general health than I realised.
MP: Explain to me simply what are the causes of bad teeth?
WDC:Typically bad diet, poor dental hygiene, and genetics. Itís unfortunate for some people that they are born with a predisposition towards suffering from decay more than most others, but their teeth simply require more care than others. Everyone can have good teeth - it just requires a bit of commitment on their part.
MP: Whatís a typical home routine?
WDC: Brushing and flossing are the limits of what you can do at home. Rinsing wonít help the teeth, it will remove some bacteria but wonít eliminate it altogether. In fact, removing bacteria in this way can open things up and allow fungus to grow - so users must be careful.
Iím always looking for some good news to share, and the good news here is with regard to how diet affects teeth. Whiteís friendly dentists donít forbid chocolate - instead what they do is encourage cleaning of teeth after eating sweet foods. And they recommend that most natural of oral cleansers - our own saliva - be allowed to do its work.
Overall though, the news is good. In recent years they have seen people taking an increased interest in caring for their teeth.
Part of this growth has come through cosmetic rather than purely medical reasons.
WDC:People today are more aware of the social benefits of having an attractive set of healthy teeth. Today our role models and those we watch on TV or at the movies invariably have good teeth. We feel a social pressure to have the same.
For whatever reason society determines strong, straight white teeth are a positive benefit it certainly provides a health and confidence boost for those concerned. Itís certainly part of the fashion of todayís society.
This can start with simple scaling and teeth whitening, and can continue through extensive remodelling of the clients mouth.
The dentists insisted on showing me some horrific Ďbeforeí photographs of teeth, and their transformation through to the rather more pleasing Ďafterí images - none of which I thought youíd welcome being shared with you on these pages. It is truly amazing what can be done though given time, the patientís commitment, and a skilled team of dentists such as those at White Dental Centre.
The lesson I learned above all others is that rather than being too afraid to visit the dentist, Iím now too afraid not to visit.
Youíll find White Dental Centre on the 22nd floor of Kuwaitís Dar al Awadi in Sharq. Call 223 22 223 for a fear free and (possibly) painless consultation.
First Published in Men's Passion Issue #26 November 2010