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How long does it take to forget a bad dental experience?

We take great pride in treating some very anxious and dental phobic patients at our practice. These are patients who have finally conjured up the courage to come to the dentist. In some of the cases we see, these patients haven’t been to the dentist for decades!

Now the question here is why? Why have they been avoiding the dentist for so long and letting their teeth deteriorate? In most cases it is due to a bad dental experience in the past which has made it difficult for them to ever go back to the dentist.

How long does it take to forget how frightening it was?

In most of these cases, the bad experience was during their childhood. It is a frightening experience for a child to go through tooth extraction and this is usually the prime cause of their dental anxiety. Some of our patients tell us about the ‘butcher’ who inflicted aggressive techniques with no time for gentle patient care. We can’t comment on this as we weren’t their to experience it however, I can sympathise with our patients who recall these experiences.

When I was 12 years old I got food poisoning after eating from a local take away. I never ate from that take away again, even after it had gone out of business and been bought by another business with a different name and menu. It has been 16 years since I got food poisoning and I still haven’t eaten from there again. There is no rational thinking behind me avoiding this take away but it shows that sometimes our myths run deep.

This is the same case for our patients who have avoided the dentist for so long. Their is no reason why they should let a bad experience as a child influence there feelings towards future dental treatment however, the myths run very deep!

I will go back to that take away so that I can finally erase that memory associated with that building. We will continue to help anxious dental patients to understand our work and clinic better to overcome their dental anxiety. Sometimes it can take years, even decades, but it is never too late!

  • Mohsin Patel BDS MJDF RCS (Eng)

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