Your brother-in-law shocked you at the last family cookout when he admitted he hasn’t been to the dentist in eight years. You were impressed he still has so many of his teeth with that being the case. When you asked why, he said he’s never felt like he had any adverse symptoms that made him think a checkup was necessary. You told him there are several issues that could occur without him being aware of them, and you hope he’ll finally make that appointment. Keep reading to learn from your dentist in Houston why this could be a form of dental fear, why it’s not uncommon, and how people can get past their concerns.
What Are Reasons a Person Might Give for Avoiding the Dentist?
- Fear: “Dentophobia” is a real thing. It can have many causes. Maybe a person witnessed someone else who seemed to be in pain at the dentist or they have a general fear of sharp objects.
- Lack of Insurance: Someone may believe they simply cannot afford a dental visit. They might not think their insurance will cover treatment or maybe they don’t have any and have not checked on potential alternatives.
- No Symptoms: A person might think they feel just fine and have no reason for an exam. There could be trouble ahead and they don’t see it coming. A cleaning is always important.
- Forgetfulness: Someone will say they always forget to make an appointment. A well-placed sticky note reminder could remedy that.
- Shame: If you haven’t been to the dentist in a long time and are dealing with bad breath and/or dental issues, embarrassment or concern about being judged may keep you away.
Why Is Dental Fear Unwarranted?
- Treatments can be explained in advance. If you are worried about what happens in a cleaning and exam, ask the hygienist to walk you through the process before any work begins.
- Seeing the dentist as a real person can be helpful. The dentist is a person just like you with hobbies and favorite foods – not a mysterious figure behind a mask. Having a quick chat about non-dental topics can be comforting when you first meet them.
- Dental tools shouldn’t be feared. If you are concerned about the tools used during an exam, ask the hygienist to explain to you what each one is used for before the cleaning and exam begin.
- The average dental appointment lasts an hour or less. If you are scheduled for a cleaning and exam, it’s not going to take up your whole afternoon. Having your vehicle serviced will usually take longer than maintenance for your mouth.
Most people who don’t go to the dentist probably believe their reasons for avoiding it are legitimate, but your teeth and gums won’t be interested in any excuses when plaque starts to take its toll. Making and following through on that one preventive dentistry appointment could mean everything when it comes to you getting more comfortable at the dentist!
About the Author
Dr. Holly Boone earned her dental doctorate from the University of Florida. She is a member of the American Dental Association and the Academy of General Dentistry. Dr. Boone has a fellowship in the International Dental Implant Association. She will be happy to explain a treatment or what a particular tool is used for in advance. In fact, you are welcome to ask our staff about anything that might be a source of dental fear when you make an appointment which you can schedule on our website or by calling (713) 522-7540.