When we think of models, we think of the most beautiful people around — the ones with perfect bodies, perfect faces, perfect hair, and perfect teeth. For models, having these flawless features is part of the job description. It isn’t easy to meet that standard for beauty, but as one Dutch model learned, it’s even harder if you’re afraid of the dentist.
Twelve Years Without a Check-Up
Nienke van der Peet, a 29-year-old model living in London, suffered from such severe dental anxiety that she ignored recommendations to see the dentist for a check-up and cleaning at least twice a year and instead avoided the dentist’s chair for over a decade.
“Just the idea of going to the dentist was enough to bring me out in a cold sweat and make my hands shake,” van der Peet told Daily Mail.
Although as many as 75% of Americans suffer from some level of dental anxiety, it’s more severe for some than others. Van der Peet’s anxiety was bad enough that it not only stopped her from going in for check-ups, but even prevented her from getting care when she was experiencing oral health emergencies.
Once, she chipped both front teeth in a fall. Despite the fact that the broken area was extremely sensitive and painful, she put off getting it fixed for four whole months. And when an infected wisdom tooth caused her face to swell and resulted in extreme pain that kept her awake at night, she endured weeks of torment rather than make an appointment. Whatever pain she was experiencing at home, she couldn’t imagine it being worse than the pain that awaited her at the dentist.
It Only Takes One Bad Experience
To some, this might seem like an overreaction. But to van der Peet, the dentist was the ultimate nightmare. When she was 16, van der Peet had an infected wisdom tooth. The dentist who removed it was less than gentle, leaving the model with childhood trauma around the incident. She remembers the injections as painful and the dentist as laconic, failing to explain anything he was doing and leaving her with a painful, swollen mouth.
Unfortunately, for people who have bad experiences like this, it can be easy to lump all dentists into the same category. Luckily, van der Peet has been taking steps towards conquering her dental anxiety and getting the oral health treatment she needs to have not just a beautiful mouth, but a healthy one: She found a local dentist willing to work with her to defeat her dental anxiety.
If you suffer from dental anxiety, it’s important to have a dentist you can trust and feel comfortable around. Explaining your fears to your dentist can help them take steps to make your dental experience more comfortable. Those steps could mean explaining each step of the procedure to you before you even get into the chair, or working out a nonverbal “stop” signal that you can use if you ever need a break during a procedure. For those with extreme dental anxiety, sedation dentistry is a safe, effective way to remove the fear and stress from dental procedures.