Many people are cautious about visiting the dentist, due to fears around pain, injections, drills and more. For some, the fear is so strong that they end up avoiding going to the dentist for many years. However, this causes a huge range of problems. Severe dental problems will eventually arise, which may end up in tooth loss or severe pain. There are also physical health consequences too.
Many people are afraid of going to the dentist. In fact, it is one of the most common fears that people have. Among the worries caused by the dentist include pain, numbing injections, dental drills and more.
However, most people are able to attend the dentist, despite their fears. But for some, the fear is so intense that they end up completely avoiding going to the dentist.
Not going to the dentist can cause a huge amount of problems. Oral problems like cavities will become more severe. Gum disease is likely to be another consequence. Untreated gum disease and cavities can result in severe pain and eventual tooth loss.
Furthermore, physical health problems will develop. Therefore, going to the dentist is crucial for your overall wellbeing and health.
How do people feel about going to the dentist?
Going to the dentist is clearly not a favourite pastime for many. However, most people are able to attend regular check-ups without a problem. While treatment may be uncomfortable, it is seen as necessary for most.
In the United Kingdom, the Adult Dental Health Survey shows overall opinion . The survey asked over 11,000 people about their dental health.
The survey found that 36% of UK adults are moderately “dentally anxious”. Furthermore, 12% are extremely “dentally anxious”. The respondents who made up 12% of the vote would avoid the dentist at all costs, or at best, require full sedation .
There are similar feelings worldwide. It is also important to state that some people are unable to attend the dentist for other reasons. For example, this could include a lack of access or financial constraints.
The impact avoiding the dentist has
There are a range of problems caused by avoiding the dentist. Bacteria in the mouth leads to a build-up of plaque, which over time turns to tartar. This is what causes tooth decay.
As a result, cavities will form. Cavities are very common, but this doesn’t mean that they can be left alone safely. When cavities are untreated, it can cause nerve problems, which then require a root canal to fix .
If still left alone, intense pain and eventual removal of the tooth are inevitable. Alongside the above is the issue of gum disease, which can also result in pain and the need for tooth removal .
Dental problems can also have an impact on a person’s mental health. For instance, poor oral health, missing teeth and bad breath have all been shown to affect self-esteem and overall mental wellbeing .
Then there are also physical health consequences as well. A study by the Harvard Medical School found that people with a history of gum disease were 43% more likely to develop oesophageal cancer, and 52% more likely to develop stomach cancer .
Moreover, part of a dental check-up involves a dentist examining the overall heath of the mouth. This includes looking out for signs of oral cancer, which normal people would be unable to spot.
Early detection of oral cancer is crucial. When oral cancer is treated early, up to 9 in 10 cases can be successfully treated . Therefore, this highlights the importance of seeing a dentist.
Some people who avoid going to the dentist decide to put up with the pain by using painkillers. But this is a short-term solution, and as the pain gets worse, people can resort to using strong opioids. This can result in addiction, which makes their overall health even worse.
There are some treatments available for those who fear the dentist. Deep breathing, relaxing music, pausing during procedures and open conversation between clinician and patient can have a calming effect .
Some dental clinics have started to employ a clinical hypnotherapist to help those afraid of a procedure. The therapist would typically sit with the patient ahead of their appointment in an attempt to make them comfortable .
It has also been suggested that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – typically used for mental health conditions – could also be beneficial. CBT may also be capable of producing long-term results.
It has also been suggested that pointing to the benefits of dental procedures can be useful. This would typically include relieving pain, better oral health and improved wellbeing.
1) How do you feel about going to the dentist? If you feel anxious, it is a good idea to let your clinic know. Here at Savanna Dental, we take great care in ensuring our patients are comfortable, well-informed and calm throughout their visit to us. We would love you to book a check-up with us!
2) Many people don’t go to the dentist out of fear. But this can result in routine dental problems becoming much more severe. As a result, a person may end up losing teeth, when the problem could have been contained long ago. Therefore, it is crucial to regularly see a dentist to keep your oral health strong. We recommend booking a check-up soon, where a dentist will be able to give you advice on your oral health.
What we offer at Taradale Dental
It is important for dental problems to be addressed early. Any oral-based problems will be identified at check-ups. This helps to prevent the problem getting worse. If and when further treatment is needed after a check-up, our patients receive a clear treatment plan.
The best way of avoiding extra treatment is to have strong oral hygiene. This includes brushing our teeth at least twice a day, flossing regularly, and getting a dental check-up at least twice a year. Avoiding sugary foods and drink and not smoking also helps.
 National Health Service. (2009). Adult Dental Health Survey 2009 – First Release. Available: https://files.digital.nhs.uk/publicationimport/pub01xxx/pub01061/adul-dent-heal-surv-firs-rele-2009-rep.pdf. Last accessed: 5th February 2022.
 Petersen, P. E., Bourgeois, D., Ogawa, H., Estupinan-Day, S., & Ndiaye, C. (2005). The global burden of oral diseases and risks to oral health. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 83 (9): p661-669. Available: https://www.scielosp.org/article/ssm/content/raw/?resource_ssm_path=/media/assets/bwho/v83n9/v83n9a11.pdf.
 Kisely, S. (2016). No Mental Health without Oral Health. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 61 (5), p277-282. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0706743716632523.
 Lo, C-H., Kwon, S., Wang, L., Polychronidis, G., Knudsen, M. D., Zhong, R., Cao, Y., Wu, K., Ogino, S., Giovannucci, E. L., Chan, A. T., & Song, M.(2021). Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and risk of oesophageal and gastric adenocarcinoma: a prospective study. Gut. 70 (3): p620-621. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/gutjnl-2020-321949.
 National Health Service. (2019). Mouth Cancer. Available: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/mouth-cancer/. Last accessed: 28th January 2022.
 Cook, J. (2022). The people so terrified of dentists that they haven’t been for decades: Woman, 38, gets nervous when watching adverts for toothpaste. Available: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-10461373/The-people-terrified-dentists-havent-decades.html. Last accessed: 5th February 2022.