Fear of Diagnosis & Dental Phobia


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Going to the dentist is daunting enough as it is, but one appointment can often lead to more. We never know what a dentist is going to tell us when they take a look at our mouths, and for some, the fear of being told that something is wrong with their teeth may be quite severe.

Dental diagnosis

While there’s plenty of literature around at the moment about oral hygiene and how to keep your teeth clean, there is no guarantee against tooth decay or abscess. It is recommended that you visit your dentist for a check up at least once a year, but in actual fact many people don’t really comply with this. Whether they do or not, there’s always a chance of walking into a dentist’s office happy with how your teeth are doing, and then finding out that you need further dental work. Common oral ailments that affect people and need further treatments include:

  • Dental Caries (aka tooth decay) occurs as a consequence of poor diet or brushing, and is a condition that arises as bacteria damage teeth, in particular structures like enamel and dentin which contribute to the hardness of teeth. What happens is that over time these materials are worn down leaving a hole in your teeth called cavities. If severe enough, the condition can only be treated by removing the tooth or a painful root canal.
  • Tooth Abscesses tend to be a consequence of tooth decay and form from dead tissue around the root of a tooth. Pus is enclosed in infected tissue, forming a painful abscess that spreads if untreated and can be very dangerous.
  • Tooth Grinding (referred to as bruxism) is a condition where people clench their jaw and grind their teeth together, wearing them down gradually over time.

Fear of diagnosis and dental phobia

It may seem obvious or simple but for many the root of their phobia lies in the fear of the unknown. The fear of what could be wrong with them and what it might mean. The fear of not being able to cope with the diagnosis or of not knowing how to cope. The potential cost of treatments can also be a worry. The main problem however is that the fear of what could be wrong tends to cause panic, and thus people often assume that the situation is worse than it is. Issues such as not fully understanding the dental jargon or misunderstanding what the treatment may entail certainly do not help calm a patient’s fear. In truth the situation is often not as bad as a patient fears and the treatment often less intimidating than they might assume. 

If you are afraid of what you might find when you visit the dentist, remember that any diagnosis or treatments recommended are ultimately for your own good. If you have a problem with your teeth, you need to have it dealt with, and the sooner the better.


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