Cavities and Missing Teeth: Link with Dental Phobia

The Dental Phobia Dilemma

From King’s College London comes a study confirming that people with dental phobia are more likely to have active caries or missing teeth. Published in the the British Dental Journal, the study aims to explore the social and demographic backgrounds of people who have dental phobia and how that impacts their dental health and their quality of life. In a survey by the British Dental Health Foundation, before 2013, about 36% of those who didn’t see a dentist regularly said that fear was the main reason.

Dental phobia is fear of dentistry and of receiving dental care. The fear may be intense or unreasonable, so much so that the person may put off even routine dental care. It is different from dental anxiety which is a sense of uneasiness when it’s time for dental appointments. The person will have exaggerated or unfounded worries or fears. Dental phobia is a more serious condition. Persons with phobia aren’t merely anxious. They are terrified or panic stricken.

The London study analysed the data from the 2009 Adult Dental Health Survey to see what oral health conditions do dental phobic patients have. There were 10,900 participants, of whom a total of 1,367 were identified as phobic; 74% were female.

The results showed dental phobic people were more likely to have caries versus non-phobic respondents, and were likely to have one or more missing teeth. Many with dental phobia avoid seeing a dentist on a regular basis to address conditions that are preventable and chronic. Once a visit has been made, the phobic patient might also prefer a short term solution instead of a long term care plan, such as extraction. The patient makes a treatment decision favoring a one-time option rather than making multiple visits.

Dental phobia impacts a person’s physiological, psychological, social and emotional wellbeing. Dental phobic people showed higher levels of impact, even when levels of dental disease were controlled. Other research has shown that these individuals express negative feelings like sadness, tiredness, discouragement and general anxiety, less vitality and more exhaustion. Embarrassment at their poor teeth will prevent them from smiling and showing their teeth. It is implied that preventive services can help those with dental phobia like an in-home oral healthcare plan.

Understanding The Phobic Patient in Downtown Seattle

Dr. Jaime Lee, our Seattle dentist, tries her best to make our practice less intimidating for all patients, educating our clientele that dentists are not associated with discomfort and pain, but rather with care and compassion.