Why are people so afraid to go to the dentist?

That’s it. Why are people afraid? The alternative is a nightmare of horribly bad teeth or dentures at age 40. My whole mom’s family went through it.

I’ll admit I don’t go as often as they say you’re supposed to but I go every two years, and I always go if my teeth hurt for any length of time! When you don’t go and don’t go and don’t go, you end up with root canals and crap.

So tell me - what causes YOU not to go to the dentist?

Fear of pain, I guess.

I also had a very bad experience when I was a teen. A bad dentist did a filling when it should have been a root canal, leading to infection and having to yank the tooth out.

But really, it’s all about the pain.

Yup, pain. No matter what, it’s going to hurt. Even that first shot hurts like hell (I really hate needles).

The tools don’t help either. You see them laying on the tray and not one of them looks pleasant. Every single one of them looks like they’d hurt like hell.

And I too had a really bad experience growing up. So much so that I refused to go to the dentist growing up until the military made me.

I don’t mind going to the dentist. The pain doesn’t bother me. I remember a time when the dentist strapped me down to work and then I just got a braclet for it.

Well, I go now regularly (once a year, though I have to get fillings done in about 3 weeks) but I didn’t go for about 5 years.

Why? First it was because I didn’t have insurance or the money to pay for a checkup (and the more than likely cavities). Then when I got insurance, I didn’t go for awhile because I was scared. Why? Because the freezing stuff doesn’t always work well for me and the last dentist I had continued to work while I could feel it.

I have a good dentist now though, so I’m not afraid to go.

Well, no. The alternative in my case was not going to the dentist. No pain, no nightmares, no horribly bad teeth for 14 years. Also no bills, no time spent, no slicing my gums on x-ray tabs or gagging on my own spit while someone jabbed at my gums with sharp pokey things.

14 years, and then there *was *pain. And when that happened, I went to the dentist. Simple.

Ok, WhyNot, fair enough. You still went when you needed to. How about people who don’t go to the dentist when there IS pain?

Honestly, I think you (and I) are lucky genetically in that we have strong, tough teeth. I don’t get cavities, have never had braces, and never anything more serious than having my wisdom teeth removed. So I acknowledge I am lucky.

But when you are actually in pain, and are still protesting the wisdom of going to the dentist…that seems ridiculous and blind to me.

I have gotten more and more afraid as I’ve gotten older. Now I take Valium for even a cleaning. I had a crown put on the other day and had to have 20 mg of Valium, nitrous oxide, a nerve blocker, and five shots of Novocaine. It took forever to go numb. The last time I had a filling changed (not a cavity; I just had to have the filling changed as it was loose), I was so anxious and nervous and stressed that I burst into tears in the chair. I put off having this crown done for more than a year, until I was worried that the cracked tooth would break while I was on vacation, so that made me finally schedule it.

I cannot have a cleaning with that newfangled water-scraper thing because the noise freaks me completely out, besides that my teeth are very sensitive and thus the pressure of the water hurts.

The smell of teeth being drilled almost makes me puke. It’s kind of like burning hair. The person who invents a silent drill that works without causing that horrendous oder is going to make a billion dollars.

So to answer the OP, all these things make it a a very unpleasant experience for me. I do get a cleaning every 6 months (as long as I don’t keep putting it off) because then the procedure is very quick since there’s not much to clean.

Also, for some reason most dental insurance sucks compared to health insurance. Even fairly routine procedures will often only be covered at 50%

So, for most people, dental apointments are not only frightening, but expensive.

I don’t fear it, I hate it. I go, but I loathe every second and put it off as much as possible.

First, because I’ve had several exceptionally bad experiences with ham-handed dentists and hygienists that caused me a whole lot of unnecessary pain. I’ve had the corner of my mouth ripped open with the little hook-shaped pointy thing that my dentist didn’t bother to take all the way out of my mouth before trying to put it away.

Second, I’m a bleeder. Regardless of my actual state of gingivitis (which, in point of fact, is nil - my gums are fine, thanks), I’ll be bleeding into my mouth for the rest of the freaking day. Spitting blood for the next 12 to 24 hours doesn’t appeal.

Third, I have a very, very touchy gag reflex. I can’t even count the number of times a dentist or hygienist has triggered it. I can count the number of times they’ve triggered it and I didn’t manage to suppress the reflex enough to keep from throwing up. That number is twelve. Let me assure you, throwing up with your head tilted backwards bcause you couldn’t struggle upright out of the mess of trays, lights, people, and assorted equipment fast enough is massively unpleasant. Throwing up through a mess of metallic crap because the asshole who triggered your gag reflex wasn’t on the ball enough to correctly translate frantic hand gestures, facial expressions and the grunting that’s all you can manage with someone’s hands in your mouth correctly is actually LESS fun.

Fourth, I’ve never - in my entire life, with seven different dentists - had a dentist appointment that began on time, ended in the alloted amount of time, or failed to involve a bare minimum of twenty minutes all by my lonesome self sitting in that chair, tipped backwards with random crap hanging out of my mouth waiting for the goddamn dentist to get back from wherever he or she buggered off to halfway through a routine cleaning.

We’re not even going to discuss the many times I’ve had some version of the following exchange:

/jab with painful needle sans numbing

“Did that hurt?”
“Hell yes that hurt!”

/drills anyway

“Goddamn it, that hurts! Can’t you wait for the novocaine to kick in?”

/second jab, still not numbed repeat

One would think waiting at least 10 minutes for the drugs to kick in would dawn on them somewhere.

That’s why I hate the damn dentist.

I’d definitely go if I had pain.

It kind of grosses me out that some people don’t get regular cleanings. I have a friend who is a hygienist and hoo boy, the stories she can tell.

I didn’t go to the dentist for probably three years, until last week. I was never afraid of going, it just wasn’t a priority. Then last week, I started having tooth and gum pain and was worried I needed some wisdom teeth removed or something else drastic. Turned out my gums were just infected because I hadn’t had them cleaned in so long. It was pretty painful and I spat out, by my standards, a scary amount of blood. So now I’ll probably be afraid of not going to the dentist. :stuck_out_tongue:

But yeah, the answer to the OP’s question is a combination of “fear of pain” and “what I don’t know won’t hurt me.”

A lifetime of bad experiences, all dealing with pain that the dentist could not, or would not, control. See, a daily “ache” can be dealt with by ignoring, or popping an ibuprofen. The pain of dental work is >>>RIGHT THERE<<< and can’t be ignored and you can’t get away from it because once they’ve started they HAVE to finish. Memory of pain = stress about pain = worse pain than if there weren’t the memory. There has been more than one occasion where I’ve left the dentist in (or on the verge of) hysterics, including one recent time where 5 shots of novocaine were required for a minor procedure.

I finally found a dentist who was sympathetic to the history (though she stubbornly refused to listen to my recommendation that she shoot me with horse tranks, or tap me with a sledgehammer, dangit), and knows what pharmaceuticals will make the experience downright tolerable. And doesn’t roll her eyes at me (like our former dentist did) when I brought up the subject of anxiety. Have had several major procedures done there and both were quite tolerable.

Now the only things keeping me from going are the time off of work, and the huge bill (EEK!!!).

I consider myself lucky that I don’t mind going to the dentist. I go twice a year.

Maybe it’s because I do go so often, that it’s just a routine. No different than getting my hair cut except it takes longer.

I’m not scared of the dentist, or pain, for that matter, so I count myself lucky.

But in recent years, I have grown more wary of seeing a dentist because I increasingly suspect them of doing stuff that wasn’t really neccesary. No kidding, I have fillings in every single one of my molars. Many of those fillings were done because the denstist saw some speck on the X-ray that might, in time have become a cavity. :dubious:
It is now so bad that if they start replacing my fillings. I’m afraid the small remaining edge of tooth wo’nt survive it.

So, after years and years of dutifully going every year, I’m now in the camp of WhyNot, but with worse teeth. :slight_smile:

Same here. No cavities til I hit 50. Unfortunately, periodontal disease is what I’m struggling with now. But since I go to the dentist every 3 months for cleaning, it’s under control.

My husband had crappy teeth and would tough out the toothaches out of fear. He is…shall we say…dentally challenged now. But dentistry is SO much better today than it was 20-30 years ago. He doesn’t freak out anymore.

I don’t fear the pain, but I dread the ordeal. My teeth are bad and it’s probably going to take months of weekly visits to get them right. It’s gonna kill a whole evening each time I go.

I didn’t go for a long time between the time my parents made me go and when I was in my 20s. My basic reason was that I had a lot of cavities as a child and the dentist my parents went to used no anesthesia at all–at least not with me. I didn’t even know that it was an option. So getting a jab of novocaine for the first time in my twenties and having a painless filling was a real revelation.

I’ve had some painful experiences since then, but I’m not afraid to show it or ask for more anesthsia now if I need it.

Also the expense. But I’ve relocated to a country that covers dental with its national health insurance, so that’s not so big a deal now.

Yes, I moved overseas so that I could get my teeth done.

Are there really so many bad dentists out there? Who have no consideration for their patients? Does dentistry just invite sado-masochists or what? I moved prolly 18 times before I was 16 and in that time prolly had 10 different dentists (my mom took me every year I think) and I don’t remember any one of them as not being kind, considerate, and understanding.

Also I wonder if some people’s nerves aren’t just way more sensitive? My wisdom tooth removal was a minor thing. I had it done on a Wed or Thu and by Monday I was back in school. Maybe my mouth just isn’t as sensitive? What hurts me most is the shot of novacaine, after that I don’t feel a thing.