It is estimated that up to 75 percent of American adults experience some degree of dental fear, ranging from mild anxiety to full-blown panic attacks. In fact, there are so many people afraid of the dentist that it has been clinically categorized as its own brand of fear: odontophobia.
Sadly, dental dread causes millions of people to avoid getting regular care, often until a serious problem is occurring. Since the treatments for issues like decay and pain are more extensive and complex than a cleaning, a fear can become “validated” if not handled delicately – causing the cycle to continue.
This accomplished tattoo artist, who works on the other side of the chair in a daunting profession of her own, says she’s always been terrified of being the patient. “So I had put off seeing a dentist for 15 years! When I finally did go into another office, out of desperation, I had the misfortune of receiving some very bad treatment. This compounded my discomfort and increased my worst apprehensions,” Fore said describing a severe mouth malocclusion, where she was left with only a few of her teeth meeting due to a filling that had been done haphazardly. “I found myself in more discomfort after that procedure than before.”
Although she tried to obtain recourse, she was told the outcome “was what it was because of my tension and wiggling, which left me feeling misunderstood, undervalued and unsure of what to do next.”
Understandably, Fore then again postponed further treatment until the pain became unbearable.
“That one bad filling, too tall for my bite, developed into a TMJ (temporomandibular jaw) disorder. There was so much pressure just from chewing and talking that my tooth eventually died.”
At that point, Fore knew she had to do something, but this time was intent on finding both a compassionate and capably responsive doctor. She was referred by many in the Kitsap County Navy Wive’s Group to Clear Creek Dentistry, where “from the first moment they acknowledged my nerves and treated my trepidation before they treated my teeth.”
Clear Creek developed with Fore a phased-recovery plan that started in “baby steps,” responding to her pain and simply filing down that bad filling. Next, she came back for a full exam, cleaning and x-rays. “I have never felt rushed in either treatment or my decision-making,” Fore said. “Options are always carefully explained in advance of anything being done. They talk me through it, tell me what needs to be done next, which helps as much as any pre-medication of a procedure.”
Fore has had a dozen fillings completed at Clear Creek, five of which were done at her last appointment all at once and comfortably. “I never thought I would be here again,” she said. “I can chew – eat normally – meats and crunchy foods. I no longer need pain medication, which has relieved an ulcer that I’d developed.”
Although she still has another root canal to go, Fore’s health is now a priority, being prioritized and handled progressively. “I’m living proof that the longer you wait, the worse it’s is going to get,” she acknowledged. “But the gentle disposition of Dr. Haws and his team have made it possible to restore my mouth in a manner that’s a whole lot less scary.”
Whether it’s making accurate projections of work needed, realistic financial arrangements or just a willingness to listen and explain, Clear Creek Dentistry is literally erasing “my fear factor,” Fore said with a great big sigh of relief!