Going to the dentist is the absolute worst.

The thought of some stranger poking around my mouth with sharp metal instruments and scraping them along my teeth makes me squirm. The sound of a dentist’s drill makes my stomach lurch every time.

The amount of discomfort I feel at the dentist is on par with eating a habanero pepper without milk, Donald Trump’s disparaging comments to reporters at his rallies and stubbing your pinky toe on the coffee table at 2:32 a.m. because you had to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.

One time, I put off going to the dentist for six years. It was during high school and the beginning of college. I was convinced I didn’t have time between classes and marching band and all my other social events.

When I finally went back, I had 10 cavities and so much regret.

But I know I’m not alone in this phobia of going to the dentist.

According to Colgate, a leading toothpaste and oral health care supplier, dental anxiety and phobia are extremely common.

“It has been estimated that 9 to 15 percent of Americans avoid seeing the dentist because of anxiety and fear,” Colgate’s Oral Care Center website reads. “That’s about 30 million to 40 million people. In a survey by the British Dental Health Foundation, 36 percent of those who didn’t see a dentist regularly said that fear was the main reason.”

Overcoming these phobia and anxiety is extremely difficult. However, it’s important to get your teeth cleaned twice a year and checked for cavities and other oral issues. The National Institutes of Health released findings from the Surgeon General in 1997 about the links between oral health and overall wellbeing.

“The mouth and face are highly accessible parts of the body, sensitive to and able to reflect changes occurring internally,” the report reads. “The mouth is the major portal of entry to the body and is equipped with formidable mechanisms for sensing the environment and defending against toxins or invading pathogens.

“Recent epidemiologic and experimental animal research provides evidence of possible associations between oral infections – particularly periodontal disease – and diabetes, cardiovascular disease and adverse pregnancy outcomes.”

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want any of those issues in my life. I have enough health issues going on, and I’m not trying to add to that.

Even with all of these motivations for going for my cleaning, I’ve still put off going to the dentist again for the last year.

Despite the fact I brush twice a day, every day, and floss at least once a week – I’m human and forget sometimes – I still broke a tooth eating Skittles from an Easter candy gift bag. It was the last straw.

It’s time to buck up and head to the dentist. I’ll probably need a crown. I’ll definitely be getting four cavities filled and might need a root canal.

And I’m still filled with regret.

Do any of you also have dental phobia or anxiety? What do you do to get over it? What has your dentist done to help you cope with this fear?

Let me know! Tweet at me, send me an email or leave a comment.

Reach Katherine Ranzenberger at kranzenberger@yorkdispatch.com

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