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If I have experienced abuse in the past, will I be afraid of the dentist?

If you have suffered abuse in the past and are afraid to visit the dentist as a result, know that there are many compassionate health care providers out there, including dentists, who want to help you. Start by asking your physician or therapist for referral. If you're tense or anxious, tell your dentist and the dental staff in advance. You don't need to tell them about the abuse but you can share that you are nervous about your visit. Getting your concerns out in the open will let your dentist adapt the treatment to your needs.

One of the most common reasons that people fear the dentist is because they had a dentist cause them physical pain during treatment, and then criticized them when they complained. Dentists who practice this way do cause their patients emotional trauma that could be considered abuse. I suggest you find a compassionate dentist who has a good reputation with treating fearful patients. Ask friends or family members who they recommend.

Research suggests that fears of dentistry can be associated with adult trauma or childhood trauma such as neglect, emotional or physical or sexual abuse, and rape. Some women are able to separate the abuse with the importance of taking care of their teeth, but for others it can be more difficult. For these women, visiting a mental health professional before seeing the dentist may help.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.