It is the third time so far this month that Julia, 41, cancels her appointment with the dentist; and not precisely because he has stopped bothering one of the wisdom teeth. The school performance of his young son, the unforeseen work trip or the flu have not intervened in this either. There are three excuses, although no one asked him, that he hastened to release to wash his conscience.
What Julia has is fear, a lot of fear. It horrifies him, frightens him, and torments him the idea ofsitting on the couch and opening his mouth. It is not a topic. Odontofobia exists. It is endorsed by the World Health Organization itself (WHO), which states that the disorder affects more than 15% of the population. And the worst, the rest feel some type of discomfort, anxiety or fear every time you have to go to this specialist. A visit that, in addition, should be mandatory every six months, as recommended by the American Academy of Dentistry.
Julia has been jumping for years. The simple characteristic smells of the consultation, the waiting lying in the armchair, and the noise of the winch … They put, literally, the nerves. “He is superior to my strength, and once there, I feel panic, I tremble, I sweat,” she says.
What she does not know is that the consultations are taking a Copernican turn. Out unpleasant odors. Now they have DVD to distract themselves, relaxing music, without men and women in white coats and with new techniques that prevent feeling the slightest discomfort.
In the US and some South American countries, so-called ‘spa dental clinics’ proliferate. In them, everything invites relaxation, to scare away fear. Aromatherapy, foot massage while the dentist works with the patient’s teeth and in some cases acupuncture is offered before treatment.
Mike Gown, named best British young dentist in 2008, currently works at the Berkeley Clinic (London). As a member of the Center for Dental Fear and the recently created International Society for the Management of Dental Anxiety (ISDAM), he clarifies to in their majority, fear the needles, the perforation and tooth extraction.
There are many reasons why you hate to go to the dentist, but it is a very personal matter. However, often, those affected follow similar patterns. The most common reason is a previous bad experience, usually in childhood. This contributes to feeling absence of control, discomfort and pain “.
That’s why children are now their best customers. Dentistry is a specialty that has changed a lot in recent years, which is why the youngest have become outstanding patients. Rare is the little one who has gone through an unpleasant situation.
The classic smell of the consultations has been disappearing because many of the products that caused it are no longer used. The anesthesia and the treatments are more effective. It also adds the possibility that patients who have more panic have sedation but are aware.