2011-04-28 / Letters to the Editor

Anxiety of dentists no laughing matter

I read with some interest Mr. Sam Bari’s article titled “A Day at the Prosthondontist, (April 14, 2011).”

The dread of dentistry is a significant barrier to good oral health care. It is estimated that 35 million people in the United States avoid regular dental visits because of fear. Often patients have a preconceived expectation of dental pain stemming from attitudes and behavior depicted by others. Fear and anxiety described by adults will often be picked up by children.

It is a well-accepted fact that avoiding proper preventative dental care can lead to serious oral and systemic infections which have been liked to other illnesses including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

I am sure that Mr. Bari’s intent was to be entertaining as his columns often are. However, the fear of dentistry, especially when it leads to lack of proper dental care, is an unsmiling matter. Rather than perpetuating and fortifying this very serious misfortune, Mr. Bari’s time and effort would have been better served by writing an honest discussion as to why people have a fear of dentistry and perhaps speaking about the various modalities available to the anxious, phobic patient.

Joseph G. Samartano Jr.

Chief, Division of Dentistry

St. Joseph Health Services of R.I.

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