Friday, September 27, 2013

Dental phobia - it's not unusual

Pardon the pun - but does the thought of the dentist chair set your teeth on edge? If it does, you're definitely not alone. In fact the most recent UK adult dental health survey shows that nearly half of all people over the age of 18 in the UK have a moderate to strong fear of dental treatment. Which in many ways isn't surprising. Think especially of older adults (yes, that'll probably be me, then!) who were brought up in the old days when patient centred treatment hadn't yet been invented Things are much more seren now, I can promise you that. And much less daunting. Yes, in the old days many of the tools and machines used in the dental surgery were whizzy, buzzy, and not a little scary. And all this before the days of dental care being associated with the glamorous white-toothed Kanye Wests of this era and more to do with disconcerting pictures shown in the school classroom showing the unspeakable horror of what not caring for your teeth could end up doing to your mouth.

 One such story still gives me the jitters. Possible urban myth - but still definitely a dental (ahem) parable. Yep, it pains me to even type this. The boy who brushed his teeth too much, so much he wore the enamel off them. I mean, yikes. Just ... yikes. Anyway the survey also indicated that women with dental phobia were six times more likely to be disturbed by pictures of dental treatment scenes than women who didn't have dental phobia. Which makes sense, really. Not being dental phobic myself, I'd have to admit that dental treatment pictures wouldn't delight my inner aesthete either. Or make me smile.

 How do you manage a dental phobia though? Luckily these days there are various ways - and there are many dentists with a 'gentle dentistry' focus - professionals who have a lot of experience and can help patients through treatment.

Then there's also the cost of treatment which can be managed by getting dental health insurance - UK provider AXA PPP healthcare also have a lot of dental health info on their site, and NHS Choices also has info on dental phobia. Luckily, despite the prevalance of discomfort at the thought of dental work, there's a lot of information and support available these days.