Consequences of Dental Phobia

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All phobias have detrimental consequences to some extent, particularly when left unaddressed. Dental phobias can keep people away from much needed appointments with a dentist, and without these regular check-ups, it’s easy for your dental health to decline, leading to potentially painful and expensive conditions which can exacerbate an existing phobia.

Refusal to Visit the Dentist and Poor Dental Health

Arguably the most common consequence is that a person becomes so terrified they simply refuse to visit a dentist. Instead of having regular check-ups and treatments as required, they will just never go to the dentist. In fact it is very common for people suffering from a dental phobia to live with a great deal of pain rather than go to the dentist.

This can result not only in pain, embarrassment and emotional distress but also in serious health issues. By not having the check-ups and any needed treatments the patient can develop an array of diseases and problems with can be painful and embarrassing. A tooth growing incorrectly and against the gums can be extremely painful, mild tooth decay can worsen and compromise a tooth or result in an infected abscess, poor dental hygiene can result in chronic halitosis (bad breath) which can be immensely embarrassing.

DIY Dentistry

A particularly horrifying result of dental phobia, and one which has grown in frequency in recent years, is do-it-yourself (DIY) dentistry. This is exactly what it sounds like; people attempting to perform dentistry upon themselves in order to avoid a trip to the dentist. They cannot face the dentist so when they finally get to the point where they can't cope with their pain or discomfort any longer, they will try to solve the issue themselves. This can have dire results and often simply mean that a trip to a real dentist is even more urgently required than it was previously.

Despite this it is a growing trend and this speaks volumes with regards to how serious the issue of dental phobia as become. While performing dentistry upon yourself may seem, at best, irrational and uninformed, and at worst crazy and dangerous, for a phobic their perception of the situation is reversed. They are so scared and intimidated that they would rather attempt treating themselves and do not understand how continuing to avoid the dentist will inevitably only make the situation worse.  

Treatments that people have performed upon themselves include pulling out their own teeth with pliers, pulling out their teeth using a piece of string tied to a door handle, or whitening their teeth with household cleaning products. Other examples include holding a loose filling with chewing gum, repairing a loose crown with household glue or bursting an ulcer with a pin. While some people do attempt these methods due to the cost of dental treatment, many do it because they are too afraid to visit a dentist and are prepared to do anything to avoid going including performing risky self-surgery. 

The main problem with DIY dentistry is that person simply does not know exactly what treatment they require. They may end up pulling out a tooth that didn't need pulling out. As they do not have the necessary training they will not know that there could be many alternative treatments that would be far less painful and risky. Also these people are not performing their treatments in a clean and clinical environment using sterile equipment, gloves and specialised machines. They will also lack the appropriate medicines, pain relief and cleaning solutions. Without all of these things, infection and disease could set in causing the patient even more problems. 

Simply speaking DIY dentistry is a vicious cycle. It seems like a good idea to a phobic patient but as they are in the grip of an irrational fear with is so severely influencing their judgement, it is not surprising that in actual fact it is anything but a good call. While for some minor problems you may be able to help yourself with a temporary measure it will not be permanent, you will require a follow up appointment, and it is not appropriate for all or even most problems. It can result in serious oral health problems and cause extreme pain, but phobics can latch onto the idea as the solution to all their problems. 

To some extent it can be argued that DIY dentistry does have its place. There are Dental First Aid Kits available and these can be extremely useful. They may contain items such as glue mixture to hold fillings in place but the kits are really only designed for emergencies and are meant to be used a temporary measure only. So for example if during travel something goes wrong such as a loose crown you would have the tools needs to perform a temporary fix. You would still need to visit the dentist at the earliest opportunity, however as nothing in the kit is designed to be permanent or as a replacement for a conventional dentist. The problem with these kits however is that can encourage people to avoid the dentist as they convince themselves that with the help of such kits they do not need to visit a dentist. While the kits can be useful you do need to seek follow up treatment and this is something that phobics would be unable to do thus the kit becomes something they use to help them avoid professional treatment. 

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