dr liya mohammed

It’s ok: we know you don’t like going to the dentist. 

Even if you’re only scheduled every six months or so, it can be pretty easy to dread that appointment date as it grows closer and closer. 

But at the same time, we all want to take care of our teeth and maintain good oral hygiene, and your friendly local dentist is the person who can help you out with all of that. 

After talking with Dr. Liya Mohammed, a successful dentist and researcher currently based in New Jersey, we’re convinced that fear of dental work is starting to feel rather old-fashioned. 

Originally from Ethiopia, Dr. Mohammed earned her DDS from the prestigious New York University College of Dentistry and went on to become an associate dentist at My Smile Dental, a private dental practice. 

Dr. Mohammed is a member of the American Dental Association (ADA), the Hudson County Dental Association (HCDA), and the Cosmetic Dental Association (CDA). She has been a featured speaker at Mercy College, is a Preferred Invisalign Provider, and is also the Founder anf CEO of the nonprofit organization EmpowerGirlsNOW, the purpose of which is to provide education and supplies to girls and young women in the Middle East, South America, and Sub-Saharan Africa who have been victims of female genital mutilation or child marriage.  

Dr. Mohammed’s approach to dentistry is an excellent example of how more and more dentists today possess a real understanding of common anxieties among patients. Many of these dentists are prioritizing patient comfort in their practice. 

dr liya mohammed
Dr. Liya Mohammed, D.D.S.

Not only that, but dentistry itself is constantly evolving, using new technology and new techniques to achieve the results that patients are after. 

Dr. Mohammed is going to be our guide as we walk through what dentistry looks like today and explain why now is the best time to talk to your dentist about any issues or concerns.   

Comfort + trust 

We’ll kick things off by talking about the general comfort factor in modern dentistry. Obviously, this can be a huge factor when it comes to someone’s decision on whether or not to visit the dentist in the first place, especially if they have a real fear of dentists, known as dentophobia. 

No matter how well someone takes care of their teeth, professional dental care is a must, and if someone avoids dental visits entirely, it can lead to serious long-term problems. 

Dentists don’t live in a bubble. They understand the apprehension, and dentists like Dr. Mohammed are doing everything they can to reduce anxiety during visits. She told us that it all starts with putting patients in control and building a sense of trust. 

“Patients need to feel that they’re in control. The first thing I do is to let them know that, at any point during treatment, they can raise their hands if they experience pain. Then I stop the treatment immediately. Second, patients need to trust their dentist. I never give them a false representation of the treatment. If we’re using a needle to administer an anesthetic, I make it clear that there will be some pain.” 

It’s all built on honesty and communication, rather than administering a treatment in silence and expecting the patient to suffer through the experience without ever really knowing what is happening when. 

This philosophy creates an environment of trust and safety, which in turn can completely change how someone thinks about visits to the dentist. For patients who still don’t feel quite comfortable, extra steps can be taken to help them through the process. 

“When patients trust their dentist and feel that they’re in control, they tend to ease into the treatment. In some rare instances where patients have had prior traumatic dental experiences, I can prescribe anxiolytic medications prior to treatment.” 

For Dr. Mohammed, it all starts with an empathetic approach. For her, treatment isn’t simply about doing the job and moving on to the next patient: it’s about giving each person the attention they deserve. 

Leading with empathy in this way can also have major benefits for the dentist. 

“My empathetic approach has positively affected treatment plans, treatment adherence, increased patient satisfaction, and most importantly, reduced dental anxiety. A happy patient will also expand your business by giving referrals to your practice.” 

It’s a positive loop, a win-win for everyone involved. Patients receive the treatment they need to stay healthy in a comfortable environment, and dentists can provide treatment safely, while also attracting more patients in the process.  

Evolving approach 

But everything we’ve talked about so far falls on the interpersonal side of dentistry, the bedside manner, so to speak. 

It’s also incredibly important to take note of how dentistry is also changing in terms of technology. 

For the layperson, it’s easy to assume that dentistry isn’t changing much at all. Visits for the average person probably seem quite similar to how they were ten years ago. 

But in reality, dentistry is a medical field based on research and data, and there’s always work being done to discover better ways of doing things. The goals of dentistry stay the same, but how those goals are accomplished is evolving on a near-constant basis. 

Just a few of the advancements dentistry has seen in recent years include laser-based gum treatments, CBCT (cone-beam computed tomography systems) imaging, and clear aligners, the last of which have received the most public attention. 

However, in Dr. Mohammed’s opinion, the most exciting recent advancement in the dentistry field isn’t just about new technology but also a change in the approach to restorative dentistry. 

It’s called biomimetic restoration. In a very basic sense, this term refers to mimicking natural, biological tooth structure, or bio-mimetic. 

So in the past, restoring a tooth that’s been damaged utilized what we could call artificial solutions, whereas biomimetic restoration aims to use lessons we’ve learned from the natural structure of teeth. 

Here’s Dr. Mohammed’s more technical explanation of why biomimetic restoration is a legitimate game-changer: 

“Traditional dental procedures rely on preparation designs that accommodate restorative materials or techniques. The goal is to meet the strength requirements of the restorative material instead of prioritizing the preservation of the intact tooth structure. In contrast, the biomimetic approach unites an understanding and appreciation of the biomechanics of natural teeth with principles and techniques which maximize adhesion and tooth structure conservation.”  

For the patient, all this means that they can receive better treatment that just wasn’t being offered in the past, and this is just one small example of how dentistry, as a whole, is expanding and advancing. 

The image of the aggressive dentist ready to drill away at the drop of a hat was already outdated, but in the light of recent advances, it’s really being left in the dust. 

Clear aligners: clearly the best choice? 

One of the major advances we just talked about absolutely warrants its own section, and that is clear aligners. 

Clear aligners are dental alignment devices that are, as the name implies, completely clear. These aligners serve the same purpose as traditional braces, but they’re obviously less noticeable than braces, and they can also be removed before eating. 

Orthodontists started providing clear aligners as a treatment option years ago, and now there are even mail-order aligner services that let patients create their own dental impressions, which are then used to create a series of aligners that are delivered to the patient over the course of their treatment schedule. 

It’s no surprise that clear aligners have become a popular treatment option for patients looking to straighten their smiles, but are they always the best choice? 

Dr. Mohammed’s take on it? 

“It depends. I’ve been trained in clear aligners and traditional orthodontics, and in my experience, most people still require traditional orthodontic brackets to align their teeth to their full potential. Also, with traditional brackets, there’s also a ceramic option for patients who really care about the aesthetics aspect.” 

Let’s not forget that dentistry and orthodontia are medical fields. If you had a serious medical issue, you probably wouldn’t take the treatment option that’s simply the most convenient and the most popular. 

Different people have different needs, and if you’re wondering about alignment options, then it’s best to speak with your dentist or orthodontist about the options. 

Clear aligners are definitely still an impressive advancement, and even just the convenience makes them an appealing option, but they’re also not a one-size-fits-all solution. 

An evolving understanding 

So we’ve talked about just some of the ways in which dentistry itself is changing, but to close things out, we’d like to talk about how change can also happen at the individual level, for individual dentists and orthodontists. 

Dr. Mohammed herself has a pattern of trying to learn and do more. 

“Within my own career, I’ve always tried to offer as much help as I can. In fact, early in my career, I realized how common it was for patients to need alignment as well, and so I decided to train in orthodontics so that I could provide comprehensive treatment to my patients.”  

Even for experienced dentists, sitting still is a sure-fire way to be left behind. 

“Dentistry is an ever-evolving profession, and I intend to stay motivated and up-to-date with new technology and methods. It’s a central part of my career.” 

For anyone who struggles to make it into the dentist’s office, we really hope that sharing these stories and updates has motivated you to reconsider. Talk to your dentist about your concerns, and if they can’t provide you with the level of comfort you’re looking for, try to find a provider who can. 

At the end of the day, you want to find a dentist who’s going to do their best to keep you smiling. 😀

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