Secrets From Your Dentist

Dentists from across the country tell us what they're really thinking as they peer at our teeth.

By Chris Woolston from Reader's Digest | July 2009

We Feel Your Pain People say something difficult is like pulling teeth. But pulling teeth is really fast and easy. — Mark Mutschler, DDS, pediatric dentist, Oregon City, Oregon

Everyone should be able to get basic dental care. At our public health clinic in the Shenandoah Valley, we see a lot of people who don’t have money, and some of them need to have every tooth in their head taken out. It’s like a Third World country. — Lori Wilson, DDS, general dentist, Petersburg, Virginia

I tell nervous patients that we can give them the sedative triazolam an hour or so before their appointment—they just need to have someone else drive. It works so well that sometimes they don’t remember the appointment. — Chris Kammer, DDS

A study showed that tooth implants increase libido, probably because people feel much more confident without missing teeth or dentures sliding all over the place. — Jim Janakievski, DDS, periodontist, Tacoma, Washington

Many people without insurance don’t go to a dentist until they’re in a tragic situation. They could wind up needing $20,000 worth of work. — Paul Hettinger, DMD

We Choose Our Own Dentists Carefully Cosmetic dentistry works only on a healthy mouth—you can’t build a house on a swamp. But if you look around, you can find a dentist who will do cosmetic work without treating your gum disease first. There are a lot of incompetents and outright charlatans in my profession. — Joel Slaven, DDS

I put in veneers for a living, but they’re really overused. At some offices, patients come in for a simple cleaning and are sold on the idea of getting veneers too. Veneers are excellent for making teeth longer, but if what you want is to get your teeth whiter, use a bleach. If they’re too crowded, get them straightened. — Careen Young, DDS

Some dentists will say you need a deep cleaning because they can charge your insurance company more for that than for a standard cleaning. But unless an exam shows you have a lot of tartar on your roots or other specific signs of disease, you probably don’t need it. — Careen Young, DDS

People assume that the more a dentist charges, the better the dentist is. But I see no correlation. Ask coworkers or friends and family for a recommendation, but make sure they’ve been going to their dentist for at least five years. It takes that long to know if crowns and fillings are any good. — Paul Hettinger, DMD

When choosing a dentist, Check if the magazines in the waiting room are current. That shows attention to detail. — Michael Alkon, DMD

We Wish You’d Think Ahead People come in for an appointment without knowing what their insurance covers. They think we have a crystal ball that tells us everyone’s insurance information. We don’t. And we need to find out what’s covered before we can do anything. — Damian Dachowski, DMD

Don’t eat a heavy garlic lunch before coming to see us—we’d appreciate that. — Jennifer Jablow, DDS

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