Fear of visiting the dentist

I can’t believe that at the age of 20, I’m still insanely afraid of visiting the dentist.

But I have to, because I’ve been prolonging the inevitable appointment for the longest time and my tooth is hurting. I’m positive it’s a cavity, and I’m just hoping that all I need is a filling. Nothing more. Also, I know that the longer I drag this, the more it’s going to hurt and the condition is just going to be worse. It has dragged on for long enough since I can feel the pain even when I’m not doing anything (like now).

I remember how as a kid, I used to dread going to the dentist so much that during the dental appointment season, I would be so insanely worried that the dentist would fix an appointment with me within the week. And then when that happens, I would dread each passing day. Normally, I wouldn’t miss school even if I was running a fever, but on the dreaded day, I would wish that I could be able to miss school that day (despite knowing that the appointment was inevitable cos the dentist will hunt me down anyway). I couldn’t fall asleep the night before the appointment and sometimes the thought of spending the morning with the dentist just makes me cry.

It didn’t help that my school dentist wasn’t a very friendly woman. Her name was Ms. Ng, and she was so strict and uncaring – I hated the lectures that she gave (as though we children weren’t already afraid of her profession!), as well as the metal chain that she used to attach the napkin to our blouse. Honestly, I was terrified. Oh, I hate how some adults just derive joy from threatening and scolding children. As if walking to the dental clinic wasn’t bad enough already! The clinic was situated at the front of a dark corridor and it honestly wasn’t a very pleasant place to begin with (obviously made worse by the presence of a permanent clinic there with an unfriendly dentist).

Even now, the thought of a dental appointment still fills me with dread, despite having some relatively-pleasant encounters with some dentists (often external ones, though I must say that the dentist from the dental-truck @ DHS was really nice). Now, knowing that I’m probably going to visit the dentist tomorrow (and not knowing what he/she will do), my heart is beating at a pace faster than usual, and I know that if I was a kid, I would probably be miserably crying myself to sleep tonight.

Of course, a more rational explanation for my fear of the dentist is probably because of the idea of someone (whose face you can’t really see) peering over you, poking inside your mouth with cold, metal tools, cornering you with the tray of unfriendly-looking tools as you lie down on the inclined chair, completely at the mercy of this unknown stranger who isn’t very friendly. Plus the fear of the unknown – you don’t really know what’s the problem with your teeth, and you don’t know what he/she is going to do next inside your mouth. Not to mention the pristine and sterilised environment that is typically associated with clinics. That vulnerability is real and it makes me hella anxious and nervous.

Gosh, the dental profession has to do something about this seemingly-irrational and ridiculous fear that plagues both children and adults. (On that note, never ever scare a child because that is going to be a scarring experience for him/her.)

It’s strange how people get over their fear of visiting the doctor, yet the fear of the dentist never really disappears, even over time.


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