I have spent more time in the dentist chair then I care to remember. I did not have a lot of dental care when I was little so as an adult I had to spend more time getting my teeth and gums fixed then most people. My first year going to the dentist I noticed that after almost every appointment I would get a cold. It took me about six months to connect the appointments with not feeling well. I knew that I was going to be spending a lot more time at the dentist so I decided to try and figure out some ways to prevent getting sick after every appointment.
I know that stress can lower your immune system and I was stressed before during and after each appointment. I was stressed about how much money I was spending, I was stressed about how much time I was missing from work and I was stressed about how much my mouth would hurt after the procedures. I realized that if I did not go to the dentist I would be toothless and for me this was not an option so I confronted my fears. I spoke to my doctor about setting up a payment plan. He was very happy to work with me (I had to have over ten thousand dollars worth of work and once I admitted that this was more money then I had I felt better before I said something I was ashamed that I could not afford to write a ten thousand dollar check) I spoke to my boss about the fact that I would be missing a day of work a month for six months he too was very supportive and once I spoke to him about my concerns this stress went away. As for the pain once again having a conversation with my doctor helped. He gave me a prescription for a mild tranquilizer to take before my appointment and also a prescription for some pain pills. Just knowing that I had these options helped to alleviate the stress, and alleviating this stress helped my immune system.
My next step was to make sure that I was at my healthiest when I was going into my appointment. I know that seventy percent of your immune system is in your gut so I started taking a double dose or probiotics two days before my appointment and three days after the appointment. I do not know if it was the probiotics themselves which helped or if it was the placebo affect but I was no longer getting sick after each appointment.
I also took a few additional steps. Instead of using straight gauze to pack my teeth I used tea bags. Tea is full of antioxidants and I had heard that tea bags cut down on the amount of time it takes for your gums to heal. This turned out to be true for me. Using the tea bags cut my healing time by fifty percent. I also really watched my diet both before and after appointments. My dinner before every dentist appointment was a large sweet potato and a spinach salad. The day of my appointment I would drink fruit infused smoothies (do NOT use a straw this can lead to dry socket which is an EXTREMELY painful condition) I would make sure I had seven to nine servings of fruit the day of my appointment.
Additionally you want to make sure that you use commonsense techniques to prevents colds and flu. Wash your hands. Bring a small bottle of hand sanitizer and use it. Do not be afraid to ask your dentist and his/her assistants to wash their hands. Studies have shown that over fifty percent of doctors do not follow the hygiene guidelines set by the AMA remember you are in a partnership with your doctor.
When you get home relax. Take a nice warm shower and put on comfy clothes. Let your family know that you will be taking care of yourself for the rest of the day. Get into bed with some good movies, books and magazines. The reality is that most people have some anxiety around going to the dentist. This is reasonable. It is no fun having someone stick their hands and instruments in your mouth especially if you are having intensive work, crowns or root canals or extraction. Treat yourself kindly. You do not need to be a dental superhero.