DEAR READERS: Many people were touched by the letter from "Big Baby," the dental-phobic, and wrote in with support and/or concrete suggestions to help. Many thanks. Here are a few of the most helpful combos:
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I had a few bad experiences in the past with my former dentist, emphasis on "former." As a result, I did not visit a dentist for about 10 years due to extreme anxiety. I finally had to go to see one and got a prescription to calm my nerves to go. Don't forget to bring a ride so you aren't driving home sedated.
It really helped ease my anxiety and now I see a new dentist on a friend's recommendation and she is wonderful. I no longer need to take medication to go for checkups. So, do some research with friends. Call a dental office for a consultation to meet with the dentist to see if you feel comfortable with them, or to find out if they do sleep dentistry so you can be anaesthetized for any procedures. Good luck! Miss L., if she would like the name of my dentist, I'd be happy to provide it. -- Offering to Share, Winnipeg
Dear Share: Big Baby would appreciate all the help she can get. If your dentist is in Winnipeg, I'm sure she will be able to get there and home with a pal. Please write in with the name of your dentist and I will email it to her.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I too, hate going to the dentist, and it's not because I'm a chicken at heart -- I'll skydive, but I won't walk into the dentist's office without someone. Go figure.
I take two pills the dentist provides (doctors will prescribe them as well, if you ask) that relax me. They also offer laughing gas. It's very cool. This dental office feels if you can get into the dentist on your own two feet, that's half the battle. Tons of their patients are chicken like me. They are very good at what they do: gentle, caring and every other word you can think of. -- Former Big Baby, Winnipeg
Dear Former Big Baby: Lots of people out there in Cavity Land haven't been to a dentist for so long they really don't know what modern help they can get for their phobias. It is important to go with a friend for support on the way -- so you can't chicken out -- and safe transportation home.
Confess at an initial consult-only visit with a new dentist that you have problems with anxiety and tell what has happened to you in the past. If that dentist isn't sympathetic, move on. You can get a better match for your money. You are in control of choosing.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: Like Big Baby, I feared the dentist after some painful cleanings and being totally forgotten in a chair for 90 minutes when an emergency came in. I finally screamed and ran out. But a friend took me to his own wonderful dentist and stayed with me in the room until I was comfortable for him to leave. I am now confident and comfortable with my new dentist. Sometimes you just need a change in personnel. -- Happy Baby, St. Vital
Dear Happy Baby: Yes, but the decision to even try new personnel can be difficult. The longer you wait to face something, the bigger it can get. A trip to a psychologist is sometimes a necessary prelude before a trip to see a new dentist. It's worth going, to shrink down those inflated old fears.
Please send your questions or comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or mail letters to Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6