Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need to assess your current dental needs or your anxiety regarding visiting the dentist? Then you should take our Dental Self-Assessment. For other frequently asked questions about our practice, please see below.
A. Commonly used local anesthetics work on everyone if they are properly administered. Some patients require more anesthetic than average and specific teeth have extra (non-dental) nerves that can make them more sensitive so the area around the tooth may require higher levels of anesthetic. Unfortunately, some doctors don't take these factors into account. We constantly strive to make dentistry as painless as possible and have many alternative techniques for achieving effective local anesthesia.
1) There is only a certain amount of time you can safely be put under sedation in a dental office. If you need a lot of work and a dentist puts you under sedation, the quality of his work will be severely compromised, because the doctor will have to rush to complete your treatment.
2) Using sedation will also compromise a dentist's work because you are unable to cooperate—e.g., by moving your mouth a certain way or biting down to check such factors as bite, fit, comfort etc.
3) Sedation is not really an option for short procedures. Many restorative procedures like crowns and bridges require multiple short visits for try-ins or fittings that cannot be lumped together to make sedation viable. Without the proper trials and adjustments, the quality of the work will suffer.
A. Let us help you.
Being sedated does not help you conquer your fear of dental procedures. You will still fear and avoid the dentist's office after dental work is done under sedation. Without proper cleaning and checkups the work you've had done will fail prematurely.
We know many people think they can't overcome their fear of the dentist, but if you are motivated to improve your dental health and appearance, we can help you overcome your fear.
Dr. Michael Krochak has been specializing in the treatment of patients with varying levels of dental phobia for over 25 years. He is the founder and director of The Dental Phobia Treatment Center of New York and a former director of the Mount Sinai Hospital Dental Phobia Clinic, Dr. Krochak is sought after as a media spokesperson and as a lecturer in the field of dental phobia, by educational and professional organizations a well as by the media.
(Also see our Conquering Dental Fear site.)
We have helped patients who have had dental phobia from childhood overcome their fears, with expert care, minimization of pain and discomfort, and the attention of our supportive and caring staff. This is the sound way to make your dentist visits a positive experience, without fear and with the knowledge that you are improving yourself.
In our practice, we often invite patients to just stop by and meet the staff and see the office. Dr. Krochak can usually give you a quick hello as well, so you can get a "feel" for the environment and personalities this way. With modern dental technology, it's never to late to regain your oral health and have an attractive smile again.
A. We usually desensitize our patients to the gag reflex by first teaching them various relaxation techniques, such as diaphragmatic breathing (deep breathing), progressive muscle relaxation and visualization of soothing imagery. Then we set up a program at home by giving them various dental tools, such as a tongue depressor, cotton rolls, dental mirror and sectional impression trays. Patients first practice relaxing, then slowly introduce the tools into their mouths, retract their tongues and cheeks. They also use a stopwatch to measure how long they feel in control with the items in their mouths and record those times in a diary. By practicing this program each day, patients slowly build up increased tolerance and reduce their fear of gagging. In our office, patients have the support of Dr. Krochak and his staff, but it is much more cost-effective to do most of the exercises at home.
Sometimes, we use Chloraseptic, an over-the-counter throat spray that slightly anesthetizes the throat. Certain sore throat lozenges will do this as well.
We have recently discovered another highly effective technique, borrowed from acupuncture and acupressure therapies. There is an acupuncture/acupressure point to treat nausea and gagging on the underside of your wrist between the tendons of your forearm. This point is located about three fingers up your arm from the crease of your hand as it meets your wrist) when your palms are up.
We use "Sea Bands," which are elastic wristbands with a plastic button that presses on this acupressure point. While these bands are designed to counteract seasickness, we have found they work extraordinarily well to counter the gag reflex if they are applied to both wrists five minutes prior to treatment.
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A. In our office, we take a full set of radiographs only every three to five years depending on your oral health. We use digital technology with computer-enhanced techniques that reduce radiation up to 80%. You will get more radiation on a sunny day than from a set of digital dental radiographs.
A full series of radiographs are required to show the areas between your teeth as well as nerves, roots and the health of the bone that supports your teeth. This procedure allows us to provide you with a thorough and comprehensive diagnosis as well as the best treatment options.
Q. Are you completely satisfied with your smile?
Take our cosmetic test and find out.
Q. When was the last time you had a dental exam?
- Most people should have a visual dental exam at least every six months, even if there are no apparent difficulties. Like high blood pressure, dental problems such as decay or periodontal disease are silent and can be present for some time before you experience pain or other symptoms. A partial set of radiographs (X-rays) should be done once a year.
Q. When was the last time you had your teeth cleaned?
- Most people should have their teeth professionally cleaned every six months, and some individuals with periodontal issues or rapid plaque buildup should have their teeth cleaned more often.
Q. Do your gums bleed when you brush or floss?
- This may be a sign of periodontal disease, which afflicts 80% of Americans. Periodontal disease can cause bone loss and may result in loss of teeth. It can also increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Q. Are your teeth sensitive to cold and/or sweets?
- This sensitivity can be an indication of gum recession, worn fillings or other dental problems.
Q. Do you feel you have bad breath?
- Bad breath can be a sign of periodontal disease and/or decayed teeth.
Q. Do you grind or clench your teeth during the night or day?
- Grinding and/or clenching can lead to premature wear of your teeth. It can also cause headaches, neuromuscular abnormalities and arthritic changes in your head and neck.
Q. Is there a cure for grinding or clenching my teeth?
- There is no cure for grinding or clenching. It is a natural way to release stress while you are asleep. For more severe nighttime grinding or clenching, different types of mouth guards can be fabricated to protect not only your teeth but also your joints and the entire neuromuscular system that controls your jaw movements. Some people also grind their teeth during the day and, like any other habit, that must be consciously controlled.
Q. Does your bite feel balanced or are you aware of your teeth when you close down?
- Like grinding and clenching, an unbalanced bite can lead to premature wear of your teeth as well as neuromuscular pain in your head and neck.
Q. Is an unbalanced bite always correctable?
- Yes, it is and a balanced bite is critical for the long-term health of your teeth, muscles and joints. Various options to balance your bite are available depending on the severity of the imbalance.
Dental Anxiety Test
If you answer YES to more than three of the questions below, it may indicate that you have some form of dental anxiety.
- 1) Do you feel so uneasy and tense before seeing the dentist that you want to cancel your appointment?
- 2) Are you embarrassed that the dentist will point out how lax and neglectful you've been about dental care?
- 3) Do you feel that dentists are unsympathetic or unnecessarily rough when they work on patients?
- 4) Have you previously had an unpleasant dental experience?
- 5) Do you feel nervous while waiting in the reception area of a dental office?
- 6) When you're in the dentist's chair, do you feel uneasy and anxious?
- 7) Does the thought of a dental injection make you feel physically ill or tense?
- 8) Does seeing the dentist or dental hygienist's instruments make you anxious?
- 9) Do objects placed in your mouth during a dental visit make you panic and feel like you cannot breathe correctly?