Stories of Dental Phobia
I had to go to the dentist yesterday because my crown had fallen off. I was lying back in the chair thinking about a documentary type show that I had watched on Iplayer called the truth about your teeth. In it they interviewed three people who had phobias of dentists.
I have a new dentist and think he is great but sitting there, I can understand why people do get so nervous. These are the stories of the people on the show. They show how fear of dentists effected them and the good news once they overcame that fear and visited the dentist.
Angela – Super glues her loose tooth back in
Angela is a middle aged lady who is a professional dog walker. She has not been to a dentist in over ten years. She had a tooth that keeps falling out so she uses superglue to stick it back it. Not special glue, just ordinary everyday superglue. When the dentist Serpil Djemal sees her she says “Angela’s teeth are coated in a layer of plaque and superglue.” I imagine that is not something you see every day!
Angela has always been scared of the dentist. Her mum died at the age of 34 from throat cancer. She had a tooth out and that is how they found out she had cancer. She was 9 at the time and the memory still haunts her.
The dentist tells her that she will need to have all of her top teeth removed and replaced with dentures. The presenter tries to comfort Angela by telling her about her mums experiences of having dentures. However, Angela is scared of having dentures that will fall out when she is out in public. After her first trip to the dentist she says that she feels too self-conscious to go out.
Eventually, Angela decides that she does not want dentures she would rather have implants. However only people who have suffered trauma or have a genetic disease can get implants on the NHS so she has to go private.
It will cost her thousands of pounds but she decides that this is the best option for her. She has the operation which causes her face to swell for a number of weeks. Eventually the swelling goes down and Angela is very pleased with her new implants. However, the private dentist has warned her that she must look after her new implants so must consider stop smoking and make sure she regularly cleans them. He has ten years experience of implant operations and gives her a very strict cleaning and maintenance programme. If you do not clean your mouth then you can get gum disease around the implants which can cause them to fall out.
Richard – Bathed his teeth in sugary drinks
Richard is a man in his twenties with a young son who hates the way his teeth look and they give him constant pain.. They make him feel very self-conscious and he hates it when people are talking to him and staring at his teeth. Richard tells the presenter that his bad teeth affect all aspects of his life in a negative way.
When the dentist sees him she says:
“Richard has a lot of decay but on the smooth surface of the teeth. We don’t see that that often. He must be soaking his teeth in a lot of sugar. It is hard to see relatively young patients with tooth decay that is going to result in them losing their teeth. It is totally avoidable and involves too much sugar in the diet. Tooth decay is a preventable disease.”
The reason that Richards teeth got so bad was due to the amount of energy drinks he used to consume. He used to work twelve hour shifts and kept himself going by drinking an energy drink every half an hour. That means he would drink twenty four cans per shift. No wonder his teeth were bathed in so much sugar.
Originally the dentist feared that she would have to remove all of Richards teeth. Fortunately, she is able to remove most of the decay and in the end only removes five. She says that luckily for Richard he came at the right time and they were able to deal with the decay before it got too bad. If he had waited another six months he would be wearing dentures. She also says that Richard should dramatically reduce his sugar intake, especially energy drinks. Richard vows to do this for his young son and take more care of his newly fixed teeth.
Denise – Would rather her teeth naturally fell out
Denise is another person who has not been to see a dentist for over a decade. Her son and daughter are not even registered with a dentist. The last time she saw a dentist she was fitted with a temporary denture but was so scared that she never returned. She said that she would rather her teeth rot out naturally than have them removed by a dentist.
Since then her teeth have become loose, especially her lower front teeth. One of them has been loose for nearly three years. She is so scared of losing them that she never eats out and only eats soft food.
The reason for her fear of the dentist started when she was thirteen and had to have a tooth removed. She remembered having to eat Weetabix through a straw for six weeks. The pain and the trauma of that made her think that that is what you have to go through when you go to the dentist.
When the dentist sees her teeth she recommends a lower denture. In the past she has needed to be sedated during operations because she got so scared but the dentist is able to encourage her to just have a local injection. In the end her gum disease caused so much bone loss that the dentist needs hardly any pressure to remove the rotten teeth. With her new dentures Denise feels her confidence restored and she now has the confidence to eat out in public.
These stories were heart breaking but fortunately had a happy ending. The moral of this tale is that it is really important to look after your teeth.
You can currently see the full documentary here: