Dental visits in the '90s can be less stressful, more relaxed

dental check-up

Dr. Boriotti demonstrates how a patient can enjoy a video while he conducts a checkup.
Photo by Karen Diefendorf/Woodinville Weekly.

modern dentistry by Karen Diefendorf
If it's been much too long since you've made an appointment with your dentist, you might be surprised to discover the many new dental offerings that can help make your visit more pleasant.
   Thomas Boriotti, D.D.S., whose office is on Beardslee Blvd. in Bothell, goes a long way to make both children and adults feel comfortable and relaxed.
   A great hit with Boriotti's young patients is found in his waiting room. One wall is filled with the pictures of the youngsters with gold stars attached for every visit they make to the office.
   But even better than the gold stars are the movies the youngsters and adults can watch and listen to on their own headsets while they are having dental prodedures done.
   The movies serve an extremely worthwhile function for Boriotti. "Their primary goal is distraction," he said. "Kids can stay in the chair longer and are more cooperative when their attention is focused on a video and not so much on what I'm doing."
   Often, Boriotti reports, his patients don't want to leave until the movie is over, even though the dental work has been completed. And this is not limited to the children.
   For procedures that require more than one office visit, the staff even notes where the video was interrupted so that on the next visit the patient doesn't miss any of the film.
   Many of his patients bring their own movies or music selections, but some of the more popular videos in Boriotti's library include many Disney films. including "The Lion King." "Beethoven," "Mighty Ducks," "Mrs. Doubtfire," "River Wild," PBS's "Over Washington," and a selection of wildlife videos are also favorites.
   Dr. Otto Hanssen, D.D.S., founder of Cottage Lake Dental Center located in the Casetta Lago Shopping Center, also runs a very patient-friendly dental office. His family-based clinic uses soothing colors and a comfortable modern home environment to help patients relax. "My primary objective is to minimize any patient's fear of the dentist," Hanssen said.
   His treatment rooms are not the usual ones found in most dentists' offices. Patients are not confronted with arrays of dental tools all laid out on trays. Just imaginging what these implements might be used for is enough to scare anyone, Hanssen explained.
   In the treatment rooms at Cottage Lake, "all the patient sees is a comfy chair. There is no medicinal smell, and all working surfaces and equipment are out of sight," he said.
   Patients of Sam Castillo, D.D.S., of the Family Dental Clinic in Duvall, can enjoy the panoramic view of the Snoqualmie Valley from the picture windows in the treatment rooms.
   Castillo also offers headphones with soothing music for his patients, who also are surprised and pleased to find pictures placed on the ceilings in the treatment rooms. "The point of anything we do is to make dental procedures a pleasurable event," he said. "In today's society, we all need less stress, not more."
   He is hoping that some day he can offer his patients virtual vision to take their minds off their dental work.
   The offices of Thomas Marxen, D.D.S and M.S.D., are located in Woodinville. His concerns also center on the reluctant or fearful patient.
   Licensed by the state after special classes at the U.W., Marxen uses "conscious sedation." Administered intravenously, this medication is "wonderful for apprehensive dentristry," he said. "The patient wakens with no memory of the procedure."
   Marxen explained that many of his patients are handicapped. Others are extremely fearful or become claustrophic with the use of a dental dam. Many have an overly developed gag reflex that makes dental work uncomfortable. Some patients are so frightened that even a routine cleaning is impossible for them to face.
   "Conscious sedation is wonderful for apprehensive dentistry," Marxen said. It makes even routine cleaning a possibility for many.