It’s a sad truth that dentists are among the most feared people on earth. Along with killer clowns, extra-terrestrials and demons from the bowels of hell, dentists have featured as the terrifying antagonist of many a horror flick.
Unsurprisingly, this has done little to help the reputation of dentists – most of whom are about as scary as a cuddly toy. Neither does it help sufferers of odontophobia – or fear of dentists. Around half of the UK population suffers this affliction, with around 12% so afraid that they’re willing to put off treatment rather than face the dreaded treatment chair.
Just as common are those who’s fear is significant enough to keep them away from regular checkups, but not from seeking treatment for throbbing toothache and other ailments that just won’t wait.
Often, our first experience of the dentist is a man in a mask wielding a noisy drill, so it’s little wonder negative associations form early. That’s why we recommend dental visits from the moment children are able to sit in a chair by themselves – and regardless of whether they yet have a full set of teeth.
This is a great way to acquaint little ones with dentists and the positive role they have to play in promoting oral health.
As well as helping children to see dentists for the friendly folk they are, it may also restore the wider public’s perception of this most misaligned of professions.