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Channel 7 Today Tonight Dental Phobia

Dental News Coverage

Video Transcript

Very few people like going to the dentist but for some the fear is so great they could go years even decades without a visit, but as David Richardson reports there are now new ways to help you get back in the chair. I had a lot of anxiety I had severe fear I associate the dentist drill with someone scratching their hands on a wall, I can’t deal with it.

Every day fear of the dentist is natural enough but for a hidden number the terror is so great it’s potentially dangerous to their health even their lives.

“Dental fear is very serious. One in six Australian has severe dental fear. So scared they won’t go to the dentist at all. Some of the patients that we’ve sen have not been back to see a dentist for 10, 20 or 30 years.”

Dr. Wilfred Koon specialises in dental fear half his patients have a phobia to some degree but a growing number are so terrified they won’t go to a dentist at all, their primary fear – pain. But there are other causes.

“Not liking needle and pain could be the drill, or it could be something that’s different psychologically, like fearful I’ve been judged by the dentist.”

100 metres above the ground operating a massive gantry crane moving shipping containers every day is a cinch for Daniel Constantine, but until recently she could get to the dentist front door but not go in. After months of help she can now manage her fear but there are still occasional problems.

At one stage I grabbed the dentists hand and stopped him from drilling in my mouth, it was that bad.

“What’s the worst thing you’ve seen because of dental fear? We have to take all their teeth out. Everything? Yes.”

Now dentists are dealing with dental fear directly it’s where dentistry meet psychology.

“What we try to do to make them feel comfortable and if we offer them headphones, so they can listen to any style of music that they want.”

“We can offer them a sedative like Valium or Pentros which is something that they can breathe to calm them down so that they feel more relaxed. For the extreme cases of terror, Sleep Dentistry where a patient is completely knocked out, the work is done and they feel nothing.”

With 7 million Australians avoiding dentists because of the cost another 4 million with dental fear is a major concern, and while this phobia can’t be cured with help from your dentist it can’t be managed.

“I’m not aware of what’s going on you wake up you nice and fresh you keep going you’ve had the work done in your mouth, it’s fantastic.”