DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: My dad has always been afraid of going to the dentist. He had a really bad experience when he was a kid and the dentist drilled around a deep cavity before fully numbing the area. It didn’t help that his father was a “tough guy” who made my dad feel weak for complaining, even about something like feeling pain in a dentist’s chair.
He has been experiencing some pain in his mouth near one of his molars. Neither he nor my mother can remember the last time he went for even a routine cleaning, and now she and I are worried he could be developing a serious problem in his tooth or gum. I’ve talked to him about sedation dentistry, which several of my friends use, and even found three practices in his town that take his insurance, but that hasn’t been enough to get him to make an appointment.
What else can my mom and I do to convince my stubborn dad that his health is at stake if he does nothing about his pain until it becomes a crisis? --- DAD HATES DENTISTS
DEAR DAD HATES DENTISTS: Your dad is far from alone in his fear of dental work, and his early unfortunate experience makes his reluctance even more understandable.
I agree that in your dad’s case, sedation dentistry may be a wise solution. Perhaps one of your friends who has gone that route would agree to share their experiences with him. It might also help if he’s able to arrange a consultation with one of the dentists you located who practices sedation dentistry. Having the chance to discuss his feelings and ask specific questions of an established dental professional could be the key to easing his anxiety and getting him in for appropriate treatment before, as you fear, what starts as a relatively small problem becomes a complicated one.