Open wide? One in seven prefer divorce over trips to the dentist in Manchester

Mancunians are fighting tooth and nail to avoid a trip to the dentist, so much so that one in seven people in Manchester would rather face a divorce according to a recent survey.

Odontophobia, otherwise known simply as dental phobia, is a crippling problem for many patients in the UK.

And the North West is one of the worst areas for people who fear the dentist as the most stressful event in their lives.

The survey asked participants to pick from a list of what they considered gave them the greatest stress.

Among the top situations chosen was divorce, a job interview, moving house, trouble with in-laws or, of course, a visit to the dentist.

In Manchester, the figures for people that considered a trip to the dentist their greatest stress inducing moments in life was at 14.2%.

Sandeep Senghera, founder of Toothpick who conducted the survey and a qualified dentist, said: “It’s clear that as a nation we still have a deep-seated fear of the dentist and the less we visit the dentist, the more likely we are to perpetuate a vicious circle.”

Manchester’s figure is above the region average with the North West itself at 13.9%, which is more than twice as bad as London and Wales, each of whom scored just 5.9%.

However, it is not the worst area in the country as the East of England leads the way on 21.1% followed by the East Midlands on 20.8%.

Erica Hardy, a social worker from Hull, had a traumatic experience 26 years ago when she visited the dentist due to complications following a tooth extraction.

“My face swelled up, it was bruised, an ulcer developed and I have to go to hospital the following day. It took three weeks before my face completely healed,” she told MM.

Since the visit, what used to be a perfectly fine trip to the dentist has become anxiety filled.

“I feel sick, I can’t eat and my husband has to have a day off work to go with me,” she said.

“I’m sensible so I go every six months. I make myself do it. I feel proud of myself when I go.”

Jennifer Chahill, 35 and a deputy manager from Stockport, claims that she used to be scared of going to the dentist.

“When I was younger my dentist drilled a nerve. They almost had to pull me from the ceiling the pain was so bad,” she said.

But now it is not the fear of the dentist’s drill that bothers Jennifer but more the financial aspect.

“I couldn’t find an NHS dentist who was accepting new patients so I have to go private,” she added.

“I like the dentist and I go regularly but it costs me £40 just for a consultation.”

However, Spanish architect Edward Perez who has lived in Manchester for the past year is very positive about the experience.

“I like to go to the dentist because it is reassuring to know my teeth are in good health,” he admitted.

Mr Senghera warns of the problems of letting our issues stop us going and said: “When we don’t visit the dentist, we are more likely to experience more dental decay or other problems with our teeth compared to when we have regular check-ups.

“This of course leads to dental pain and reinforces a fear of the dentist when we do go and may require more intensive treatment.

“While many of us may never learn to relish the thought of a trip, certain things could be done to help.

“For instance clarity on the cost breakdowns for those who worry about money, better systems to enable nervous patients to select a dentist specialising in treating those with dental phobias and generally more choice and control over who we see, could go some way to making us less fearful.”

Image courtesy of Augusto Serna, with thanks

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