28 Feb How Being Afraid of the Dentist Impacts Your Life
While neglecting your oral health might not harm you in the way that ignoring heart attack systems can, not seeing the dentist because you’re afraid can have a big impact on your life. Fear is the biggest reason why most people don’t go to the dentist for regular check-ups or when there’s a problem.
Your dental health is more important than you might realize and being afraid to go to the dentist takes a bigger toll than you know.
Studies Show Dental Fear Impacts on Your Life
In a recently published study by the Kings College London Dental Institute in the United Kingdom, researchers found that dental fears contribute to your overall emotional well-being and your quality of life. In a survey of 11,000 people, 1,400 described themselves as scared of the dentist. Of those 1,400 many had one or more missing teeth or decaying teeth.
Their fear initially kept them from seeking dental care to correct or prevent problems with their teeth. Now they report feeling embarrassed at the condition of their teeth. They’re also sometimes unable to eat comfortably or smile or speak in public due to embarrassment. This study showed that poor dental health lead to feeling awkward in social situations, eventual withdrawal and isolation, and poor sense of emotional well-being.
More Severe Health Problems
It’s long been known that gum disease is linked to other medical problems: rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory illness, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease. Not seeing the dentist for problems with your teeth and gums which may lead to gum disease, can make it more difficult to stop these health problems from occurring or catch them earlier. Fear of the dentist can contribute to more severe medical conditions over time, especially if your fear extends to all doctors.
Having missing, discolored, or crooked teeth can happen for a variety of reasons. If not caught or repaired in time, it can become a permanent problem that spreads. Some people are embarrassed by their bad teeth. This can reduce your self-confidence in other aspects of your life. If you’re afraid to laugh or speak publicly, you may not go for a promotion, ask that person out, or speak up when there’s a problem. And it’s all because you don’t want anyone to see your teeth.
Some dental problems make it difficult for people to eat and drink. Exposed roots, tooth sensitivity, missing teeth, and other ongoing problems that haven’t been treated may make it impossible to eat healthy foods because you can’t chew properly. Over time, your body will suffer the consequences of a reduced or poor diet. Seeing a dentist can give you back your ability to chew and drink with little or no pain.
Fewer Jobs or Promotions
We all know that we should be hired or promoted on the merits of our work and interview. But we also know that multiple factors lead to those decisions, including confidence, perceived friendliness, and even what we look like. If your dental health has been neglected because you’re afraid to see a dentist, the results – lack of confidence, unwillingness to smile, and even the cosmetic appearance of your teeth – can play a part in whether you get that new job or not.
Isolation and Depression
Having “bad” teeth doesn’t necessarily make someone feel isolated or depressed but it can be the catalyst. If your teeth make you feel awkward, keep you from speaking up, or are one of the reasons you don’t want to interact with people, you may begin to withdraw from the world. For many people, this leads to a sense of isolation and may lead to depression. Being afraid of the dentist might not automatically make you depressed that the consequences of not taking care of your teeth may not help, either.
Being afraid of the dentist doesn’t automatically lead to poor mental, emotional, or physical outcomes. What happens is much more subtle and pervasive. Not going to the dentist can lead to serious oral health problems. Over time, those health issues grow into something much larger and begin to infiltrate other areas of your life. Taking care of your teeth is more important than you realize and a good dentist’s office will do everything they can to help you deal with your fears. Ask your dentist about sedation dentistry. You don’t have to be afraid of the dentist, and help is available.