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With National Toothache Awareness Day taking place this week on the 9th February, we turn our attention to poor dental health which is a noticeable problem in the UK[1].  It’s been reported that about 66% of adults have visible plaque, 31% have tooth decay, and 29% suffer from regular dental pain. And yet, poor oral health doesn’t just cause problems inside the mouth.

However, for many people it’s not just a matter of getting to the dentists more often.  One of the major hurdles can be a debilitating fear of dentists (or dentophobia to give it its proper name), not to mention trypanophobia (fear of needles).  Local Solution-Focused Hypnotherapist Sam Little of Changes Welcome Hypnotherapy in Nailsworth comments “Your smile and your overall dental health is hugely important to your health”.

Dentophobia is generally defined as a fear of dentists and dental work[2] and is a very common type of extreme dental anxiety.  Statistics indicate that only half of the adults say they visit their dentist every 6 months, 21% say they visit their dentist annually, and 27% only visit their dentist when they have a problem. In fact, visiting the dentist is ranked as the number one reason (22%) for making people nervous, followed by a fear of heights with only 19%. People are nearly 10 times (22%) more nervous about visiting their dentists, compared to their doctor/general practitioner (2%)[3].  The specific fears can cover anywhere from a fear of the drill, fear of gagging, fear of needles and pain, or a fear of waking up during anaesthesia among other things.

There are many reasons and possible causes for people avoiding the dentists, but everybody would agree that dental hygiene is important.  Studies have even linked oral hygiene to diabetes, heart disease, strokes, pneumonia, premature babies and other major conditions[4], and it plays an important role in our self-esteem and confidence levels.

Not addressing a phobia can do more than damage your smile.  The associated  fears can become debilitating as the sufferer’s life becomes increasingly dominated by the precautions taken to avoid them.  That’s why Sam Little & Liane Ulbricht-Kazan at Changes Welcome, who are experts at helping people to deal with phobias, are offering local people free dentophobia consultations throughout February to help raise awareness of these issues.