• Dental Phobia Support

    Welcome! This is an online support group for anyone who is has a severe fear of the dentist or dental treatment. Please note that this is NOT a general dental problems or health anxiety forum! You can find a list of them here.

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elderly father and serious dental anxiety



Junior member
Oct 19, 2016
hi there - my father is in his early 80s. he is completely lucid, ambulatory, and lives independently. however, due to a traumatic dental experience 30 years ago, he refused to see a dentist until i managed to persuade him to go five years ago. in that appointment, the dentist told him that if his teeth aren't bothering him, she won't bother them. i know - appalling. he has since used that as his reason for not going back, and now his teeth are brown and falling out, he can't chew properly, and periodically, i will notice swelling on his jaw and lips. he even refuses to acknowledge any pain. i have tried every possible method of getting him to go for a visit (even calling his medical doctor for help, and expressing my concerns about his heart-health and how it can be affected by his dental health). his fear outweighs my concern. what can i do?
The best you can do is discuss it with him in a way that conveys that you care about him and that you don't want to see him in pain or ill health because of his teeth. Trying to force him to go, making him feel ashamed of how they look, and even discussing the health consequences aren't strategies that usually work. I've seen a lot of adult children try those things with little success. The fear is a much stronger motivator. At the end of the day he has to make that decision himself. Find a good dentist to take him to when he is ready and then be supportive until he makes that decision.