Dental fear refers to the fear of dentistry and of receiving dental care. A severe form of this fear (specific phobia) is variously called dental phobia, odontophobia, dentophobia, dentist phobia, or dental anxiety. However, it has been suggested not to use the term “dental phobia” for people who do not feel their fears to be excessive or unreasonable and resemble individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder, caused by previous traumatic dental experiences. – Wikipedia
I went to the dentist today, for some actual dental treatment. I don’t have odontophobia or PTSD from a previously traumatic dental experience, but I do get how some people could (for me it’s very similar to drug-free childbirth, I did it four times, but there was a point (fortunately usually fairly close to the delivery of my children) when I TOTALLY got why people requested/screeched for/insisted upon whatever medical option was available!).
I think I have more dento-avoidance disorder – it took me two years to make the appointment for the check-up (in which I was treated to my annual free “scale and clean” which is almost enough to put you off ever going back except for how ace your teeth feel afterwards) and then after being told I needed some treatment it took me another 4 months to book the appointment.
My dentist is a nice guy. He’s very professional, does a great job, never laughs when I dribble the mouth rinse down my front after treatment and chats about my family. I always know it will cost heaps of money, but that’s not what I’m avoiding. I know for treatment I’ll have to get a needle. Gross and not really just a “little sting”, but it is also not what I’m avoiding. It’s the whole lying there, mouth open, all kinds of metal bands and cotton pads and drills and suction and two peoples’ hands going on in there, and needed to swallow and not being sure if it is possible to drown on your own spit (but luckily the suction thingy comes and slurps it all up and then I wonder about where all the spit goes, and I know it’s well paid but I wonder how people can be dentists and if my mouth is just the average gross or if they just don’t think the whole thing is gross), AND THEN realising I’m clutching the arms of the reclining chair so hard that my knuckles are white, and my heart is seriously having palpitations. And at that moment I wonder if the thing that got me through child birth without pain relief, is also tricking me into believing that this is not a traumatic experience.
I’m now about $400 less wealthy, my newly replaced filling tastes really metallic and makes me shudder when I run my tongue over it, and my bottom lip was so numb for 3 hours afterwards that even my kids were laughing at me and making me talk so they could point out how weird I looked. And I couldn’t eat for 4 hours and felt really hangry for at least 3.5 hours of that. Traumatic. And I don’t even have a new baby to show off. I won’t be doing that again in a hurry.