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First impressions of a new dentist - Need advice

M

Misanthro

Junior member
Joined
Feb 24, 2006
Messages
3
Hi, everyone.  I'm really glad I found this forum, as I'm extremely scared of dental visits due to a very abusive dentist I saw as a child.

Fortunately, I found a wonderful dentist a few years ago.  He is extremely gentle and the practice is lovely.  Unfortunately, I've moved to a new city and since I don't know anyone yet, I haven't been able to get a word-of-mouth recommendation for a new dentist.  Because of this, I haven't seen a dentist in over 2 years.

Today I went to a dentist on my new insurance plan.  Although the office is in an extremely upscale building in a high-rent area, the office itself was quite cramped.  The waiting room only had three chairs and was about the size of a large closet.  I was led to an equally tiny examination/operating room, where a seemingly very inexperienced assistant took a full set of X-rays with some absolutely medieval equipment that left my mouth very sore and raw.  The X-rays were the instant kind, and were visible on a nearby laptop computer on a rollaway cart.  First concern: the assistant repeatedly typed on the computer with her gloves, both before and after her hands had been in my mouth!  The keyboard wasn't protected with any kind of sheath or cover, so is this standard procedure?  Can the computer even be sterilized between patients? :confused:

Also, there was a fairly disgusting brown spill or stain on the dentist's rolling chair.  Is this common, or a sign of an unsanitary practice?  Am I overreacting?  I only have two previous dentists for comparison.  Otherwise the room seemed clean enough.

The dentist herself was very personable and I felt comfortable with her, although I was a bit surprised to be diagnosed with 3 small cavities after a cursory 30-second examination, during which she only prodded my mouth once or twice.  In addition, because I haven't had a prophylaxis in 2 years, she recommended a gross scale.  However, my gums are extremely healthy (I brush and floss daily and they don't bleed or ache) and I am a bit wary of this, having never "needed" one before.

Someone help me!  the staff were all very kind and I do like the dentist.  She is a member of a few dental associations and is a clinical instructor at a top dental school in my city.  

To summarize, I'm afraid I may be overreacting and an outside opinion would be wonderful.

Thanks in advance!
 
Re: First impressions of a new dentist - Need advi

Hello Misanthro !
full set of X-rays with some absolutely medieval equipment that left my mouth very sore and raw.  The X-rays were the instant kind, and were visible on a nearby laptop computer on a rollaway cart.

These instant x-rays (digital) are currently 'state of the art', but the sensors (the bit that goes inside your mouth tends to be a bit bulkier that the conventional older style x-rays. The radiation dose that you get from these x-rays is as low as reasonably achievable, so thats good, but it does help if the operator is gentle.

First concern: the assistant repeatedly typed on the computer with her gloves, both before and after her hands had been in my mouth!  The keyboard wasn't protected with any kind of sheath or cover, so is this standard procedure?  Can the computer even be sterilized between patients?  

If the assistants hands touched your mouth and were in contact with saliva then the gloves should have been removed before she touched the keyboard. Unfortunately this is relatively common. Keyboards can be protected with special covers or even just clingfilm as they cannot be sterilised. It might be worthwhile bringing this to the attention of the dentist, not as a formal complaint, but even just anonymously via a phone call. If, as you suggest, the dentist is a member of various organisations she'll be mortified that a member of the public has noticed a weak-link in their cross-infection control procedure and want to put that right immediately.

Also, there was a fairly disgusting brown spill or stain on the dentist's rolling chair.  Is this common, or a sign of an unsanitary practice?  Am I overreacting?  I only have two previous dentists for comparison.  Otherwise the room seemed clean enough.

Coffee? I've seen some fairly grotty dental practices, but if the room seems generally clean then that's good. You could ask to see their sterilisation facilities if that would make you happier, they should have an autoclave or washer-disinfector. Judging by the fact they have digital x-rays though, you're probably safe enough.  :)

It sounds really like you have a good dentist there. :) If you are unsure about her diagnosis, then ask questions about it until you are happy. It's your mouth after all, and your health. If you feel the treatment is unnecessary then you don't have to go through with it, but it might be worthwhile asking for the dentist to explain her observations more.

Hope that helps.

Pars :)
 
Re: First impressions of a new dentist - Need advi

Thank you so much for your response. It's certainly reassuring.

I'll call them on Monday to make an appointment for my three fillings and gross scale. Wish me luck! :o
 
Re: First impressions of a new dentist - Need advi

Well for me personally I wouldnt be going back after the glove thing.As far as things looking stained and the small office,ect..is is possible that this dentist is starting out and got the stuff second hand.? My dentists office is so clean that the handles on the lights are covered and nobody is allowed to touch them without a glove.The keyboards are covered.You should be able to see the dentist washing their hands and changing their gloves as well.They generally have a small area where you can see what they are doing .I think its good for business.I went to one who didnt wear gloves at all.I didnt appreciate his hairy fingers in my mouth so that was the end of that.I'm very picky about cleanliness. If my dentists office wasnt clean I wouldnt be back.Dont be afraid to go dentist shopping.
 
Re: First impressions of a new dentist - Need advi

I will definitely call the glove-to-keyboard thing to the dentist's attention. The woman who took my X-rays told me it was her first day, so maybe she just didn't know any better.

My fillings and gross scale are scheduled for Friday afternoon. Thanks again for the replies so far. I'm scared to death but I'd rather have some fillings than a root canal!

Oh man, I hope I can do this. No matter how great a dentist is, I'm always this close to jumping out of the chair and running away once his hands get near my mouth. :(
 
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