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Dental and Oral Health (Adults)

Fear and Embarrassement

04/23/2001

Question:

I am a 35 year old female. As a result of some bad experiences in childhood I developed an irrational fear/phobia of going to the dentist. This resulted in abundant decay of my bottom molars, with some of them breaking off at the gum line. I also have numerous small cavities that need filling as well, and I`m sure some gum disease. I do brush every day. I am so embarrassed that I allowed my irrational fear to allow this to happen. Even though I have come to some sort of terms with the fear, the humiliation of going is just so great for me. The last time I was at a dentist the hygenist made numerous rude remarks about my poor oral health and they have stuck with me for years. I don`t even know how to begin to just arrive in an office for a visit with a mouth that looks like mine. I want to help myself, but since I am living in a new city I don`t know anyone to ask for a good caring dentist. I just don`t know where to begin and try to hang on to some sense of self respect. Thanks for any advice you may have.

Answer:

I understand what you are saying and it is difficult to locate the proper person to handle your care. It is often a `shot in the dark` and there is no easy solution. What one person likes in a dentist another will not for no fault of anyone involved - just not the right connection. Fear can be managed by various anesthetic techniques or hypnosis even. TLC is the bottom line answer with the right connection to the right dentist.

Talk to the local dental society, state dental association, dental school if there is one otherwise by word of mouth with friends and co-workers. Trial and error with `second opinion` or `consult` only office visits (but which can get expensive of course) is one solution to find the person you are comfortable with. In part you have to help yourself first by being willing to walk into someone`s office -no one can do that part for you so chin up and go!

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Response by:

Daniel E Jolly, BA, DDS, FAAHD, FACD, FAGD Daniel E Jolly, BA, DDS, FAAHD, FACD, FAGD
Former Professor of Clinical Dentistry
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University