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Dental and Oral Health (Adults)

Phobia About Cleaning My Teeth

01/23/2009

Question:

I have a serious phobia where I can`t clean my teeth. I am a very clean person but the idea of cleaning my teeth fills me with dread. I have a phobia of vomiting and that is where I believe my fear of brushing my teeth comes from. I just get this thought that if I brush my teeth it`s going to make me sick. Anyway, I`ve had this problem for a long time now. I have tried loads of times to overcome this phobia but when ever I try the toothbrush feels too big in my mouth, even when I try with a child sized brush, and it makes me gag, which just increases the fear. I haven`t been to the dentist for a very long time and I fear going there as well, due to the gagging feeling I get. I think I could only manage it if I get knocked out first. I now have a hard `crust` over my teeth, it`s worse on my bottom teeth and I`ve tried getting it off but it won`t come off. Is there any way this stuff could come off and how could I improve my oral hygeine? Thank you

Answer:

First, there are no magic solutions to your dental problems. The problem is how to control your phobia/gagging. It sounds as if you will need some type of sedation to have dental work done. There are many dentists who offer different levels of sedation.

In your case, it may be as easy as using some mild medications before you come to the dentist and possibly nitrous oxide while the procedures are being done. If this level of medication and sedation is not enough, then try the next level.

Contact your local dental society. They should be able to refer you to a dentist that provides different levels of sedation as part of their practice. It is possible that after your mouth is cleaned up and your dental problems are corrected, it will be easier for you to maintain your teeth in a clean condition.

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Response by:

D Stanley Sharples, DDS
Clinical Assistant Professor of Primary Care Dentistry
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University