The latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders officially lists odontophobia as recognized disorder. Does that mean you’re off the hook for being scared to go to the dentist?
You may have had an absolutely terrifying dental experience as a child. You may have gotten your fear from your parents, who’ve had their own bad experiences. Or you might simply have watched too many horror movies from the ’80s. There’s nothing that says your fear isn’t genuine. But here are some other things that might be even more scary.
Gum Disease. Take a quick second and do a Google image search on those two words — you won’t have to scroll down far until you’ll be running for the dental floss, I promise. But flossing alone can’t catch gum disease in its early stages. A family dentistry professional knows the warning signs, and can help you get your gums back on the right path.
Decay. You’d think that people who have a fear of dentists would be more avid at-home brushers than most, but surprisingly, that’s not often the case. But even if you are a good brusher, it’s still possible to develop decay. We tend to brush the same way every time, so if we spots, we keep missing them. And nighttime grinding can damage the enamel of even the most fastidious of brushers. An exam by a family dentistry professional can let you know if there are any problem spots.
Tooth Loss. Any of these problem, if left unchecked, can ultimately lead to tooth loss. From there, you have two options: learn to live with a hole (or several) in your smile, or start shopping around for cosmetic dentists. Cosmetic dental work is costly, invasive, and likely to be far more uncomfortable than any family dentistry exam could ever be, both at the time of the procedure and for the weeks or months of healing afterwards.
Don’t think of family dentistry as something to be avoided at all costs. Think of it as the thing that keeps all those other things, the worse things, the more painful things, at bay. Your teeth will thank you. Good refereneces. Find more.