Dental Avoiders… Eight Patient Styles II

by Dr. Joe :) · 21 comments

Are You a Dental Avoider?

In my last post, you learned about the first 4 Patient Styles – the Happy Regulars. These people mostly enjoy visiting the dentist.

Dental Avoiders are Patients Avoiding the dentist.

Now I’ll reveal the other 50 % of our general population – the ones who avoid going to a dentist on a regular basis. I call these the Dental Avoiders.

That statistic of 50% Dental Avoiders is hard to imagine when you seem surrounded by relatively healthy people. But there are large segments of our population that get by without dental care.

Years ago, I spent 3 years in Nova Scotia working as a military dentist. I saw young new recruits coming in from all parts of Canada. For many of these teens, basic dental care hadn’t been an option. By the time I saw them, there teeth were an absolute mess. It really opened my eyes as to what life could be like growing up in a small remote villages.

My point? Dentistry is a quality of life issue. You can survive without any teeth. You may not live well and you may not live as long, but you can get by.

Here are the remaining 4 Patient Styles. Does anyone you know fit one of these styles?

Here's a sweet little post-doodle for posting.

5. Anxious Avoider

Of all the Avoiders, this is probably the most common one. Lots of people feel anxious about going to the dentist. Some stop going for that reason.

That first phone call can be the hardest step of all.

Some people have had unpleasant dental experiences in the past, and some have just let things go for too long. Now they feel anxious, vulnerable an overwhelmed at the thought of going to a dentist.

Avoidance can compound the anxiety. The hurdle is big enough without the extra stress of starting a relationship with a completely new dentist. That first phone call can be the hardest step of all.

Trust is the antidote to anxiety. Once people can gain some trust, it’s amazing how much better they begin to feel. That insurmountable barrier vanishes and people start feeling hopeful about their dental future – perhaps for the first time in ages.

Here's a sweet little post-doodle for posting.

6. Embarrassed Avoider

Ostrich Approach for Dental Avoiders

This is a common situation. Someone hasn’t been to a dentist for a while and has been reluctant to return. It’s not fear holding them back. They feel embarrassed about their situation, and guilty for not going sooner.

Maybe it was financial trouble that stopped them at first. Now they just feel stuck – reluctant to “face the music.” So they continue on in an avoidance pattern.

Negative emotions are powerful and people dread feelings of embarrassment and guilt. It’s one of the main reasons why so many people fear public speaking.

Here's a sweet little post-doodle for posting.

7. Victimitis Avoider

These people are habitual avoiders. They tend to play out a victim role in any scenario. They hold on to their victim stories – ones that continually paint themselves as unfairly treated.

Playing the victim role is very addictive. It’s a cover-up. A dodge

As long as they can hold onto their story, they feel justified in staying where they are, and feel justified in their wrath.

These people transfer responsibility away from themselves and engage in something called the Drama Triangle.

Playing the victim role is very addictive. It’s a cover-up. A dodge. They’re trying to squirm out of something. As long as a chronic victim can find others willing to buy into their victimized version of a story, they can keep on spinning it for gain.

These people are a dentist’s nightmare. They tend to need lots of dentistry. Their mouth full of problems mostly stems from their own neglect, but they’ll continue to blame every dentist they’ve had.

It’s a huge red flag when I hear that kind of talk. Some people are experts at blaming, complaining and excuses. I know this person isn’t taking any responsibility for their dental condition, and I don’t want to be next on their hit list of people to blame.

Here's a sweet little post-doodle for posting.

8. Anti-Dental Avoider

Ability to access dental care is directly related to socio-economic status, but for some people avoiding the dentist isn’t a money issue. It’s an attitude issue. Some place low value on dental health. These people have no interest in preventive care and only go to a dentist when they’re in crisis mode.

Teenagers were coming in from small villages where people couldn’t afford dental care

This pattern can occur with people from different cultures and from small rural communities. Some people have grown up ignoring their dental health. That’s what their family did. Sometimes that’s what their entire village did.

There are distinct gender differences with this pattern. Most women are more health conscious. Men are far more prone to be anti-dental avoiders.

We don’t see many of these people at our office, as we don’t really cater to that emergency-only level of care. When I worked in the military, I saw lots of it. These teenagers were coming in from small villages where people couldn’t afford dental care and just didn’t know anything except extractions and full dentures.

Things changed dramatically once they were exposed to different thinking and a higher level of care. I could talk to them until I was blue in the face, but it was usually their new buddies that straightened them out. Once they knew the scoop, they got on board with a new plan that involved keeping their teeth.

The odd few remained anti-dental and continued on with the expectation of having all their teeth removed at an early age.

That completes this review of the 8 Patient Styles. Whatever your style may currently be, you can become one of the Happy Regulars. You just need to find a good dental home.

Stay healthy and keep smiling!

Signature for a Toronto Cosmetic Dentist.

Dr. Joe :)

Dr. Joe Bulger

About the Author: is a West Toronto dentist. He’s also the owner-founder of Royal York Dental – a respected dental clinic serving Etobicoke since 1950.

If you would like to learn more about your dental options, fill out our contact form or CALL 416 231-0550 for a FREE & Easy No-Obligation First Visit.

Leave a Comment

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alpharetta Dentist June 29, 2010 at 3:15 pm


Most people nowadays get teeth problems early in their lifetime, so make sure you go to the dentist often! You won’t get another set of teeth!

2 Raquelle June 30, 2010 at 3:48 pm


As I walk through my travels in life, I’ve been coming across more Anxious avoiders. I’m generally bewildered when I find someone that has used a bad dental experience as a reasoning for why they no longer go back. I have to thank my lucky stars that I’ve not experienced that! Anxious avoiders generally end up taking the long route home and can possibly make a serious problem even worse. Nice article!

3 Dr. Joe :) June 30, 2010 at 9:26 pm


Thanks for your comments Raquelle. Isn’t it amazing how some people will hang on to one bad story as a reason to stop doing something.

I’m a Tony Robbins fan and he once said, “It’s the stories we hang on to that get in our way and keep us from being great.” It’s so true.

What’s also amazing is Avoiders represent 50% of the population, and lots of those are the Anxious Avoiders. The crazy thing about avoiding is it makes you even MORE anxious.

4 Mike@Teeth Whitener Reviews October 15, 2010 at 1:55 am


I think I’m the type, who loves his teeth and wants to take care of it!

5 jane@dentists in alpharetta July 17, 2011 at 10:00 pm


for me it definitely has to do with money. i mean don’t get me wrong, it’s not particularly enjoyable to go to the dentist, but i don’t have dental insurance anymore and often times they really don’t do a heck of a lot. yea i know i need to floss more but i brush really well everyday with an electric toothbrush so…

6 Sarah Walsh @ Dental Hygiene Programs August 3, 2011 at 4:25 pm


I used to be an anxious avoider. I’m a dental hygienist and am not afraid of the dentist now but I was in the past. When I was in high school, I had a bad experience with the dentist. He poked at my gums until they bled and them scraped at the teeth which made a horrible noise and it hurt bad. It took me ten years to get back to the dentist. I was nervous about it but this new dentist was so nice. He told me I had beautiful teeth and barely even poked at them. He even offered to numb my gums beforehand. Since then, I’ve looked forward to going to the dentist.

7 Kate@Dental Implant Cost August 22, 2011 at 5:48 am


I think you have mentioned a very valid points about dental avoiders. I think we all know about how important role teeth play for our appearance. But as long as it remains healthy we are not take care of it and when it becomes to get affected then we realize about its importance. Your article really stand out a lot to give us a very good reminder about our dental health.

8 Dentures November 3, 2011 at 6:08 am


This is the Vital point i guess Teenagers were coming in from small villages where people couldn’t afford dental care.

9 Mike Frensham February 19, 2012 at 11:22 am


So many people fear a visit to the dentist or dental hygienist but it is just so important to ensure good oral hygiene and therefore good health in general.
Great site encouraging comments and info to anyone with a problem!

10 Dental Hygienist Schools December 2, 2011 at 7:22 pm


Very interesting and useful info, thank you. I am going to link to this web site from ours.

11 Johanfrancho@Dental Lab Services December 23, 2011 at 8:07 am


I think we all know about how important role teeth play for our appearance.I find someone that has used a bad dental experience..Thanks!

12 Autism Guide January 25, 2012 at 8:17 am


This is a very good categorization of the Dental Avoider. I am just trying to find out in which category does i fall. Its very common problem with all of us. Some people know about it and some don’t want to know about it. But we should be very careful about the dental issues.

13 Grace Sevilly@Sleep Dentistry February 19, 2012 at 6:45 pm


I think that I fall within the category 6, embarassed avoider… It took me too long to count when I last visited my dentist and the thought of coming back again after years just make my head spin!

14 MJ@ Ma Insurance February 29, 2012 at 9:45 am


I am guilty, to an extent, of this. =) Massachusetts Dental Insurance has been very kind to me over the years and I plan to keep it that way. I pay a low co-pay and premium and my dentist is really thorough and straight forward. Thank goodness for good dentist and dental insurance.

15 General Dentist Las Vegas April 17, 2012 at 9:41 am


Thanks for providing us very informative blogs. Dental health is the most important of all. Teeth make your smile good and attractive. Take a dental checkup in a week with your dentist and brushed at least two times in a day. If you do these things regularly then you will be free of all dental health issues in future. Keep sharing such more.

16 Alex Simring April 26, 2012 at 11:15 am


I’m definitely the anxious avoider, and I think this all started from a single bad experience. Having trust in your dentist is really important, and once I found someone who I could trust, I lost a lot of my anxiety about going to see my dentist

17 Yvette Gilmore August 16, 2012 at 12:20 am


It seems that there are truly a bunch of people who are dental avoiders. I think that its necessary to provide them with information about the benefits of going to a dentist. I know that they have their own reason for avoiding to have some appointment with a dentist.

18 Anna October 17, 2012 at 9:30 pm


This is really an informative post about dental practice. Thanks for sharing this to us.

19 Dentist@Raritan Dentist November 4, 2012 at 12:03 am


My own mother is a dental avoider… even when me, my sister, her brother, and two nieces are all dentists. I guess she can’t avoid us. Haha.

20 Sandeep Sharma April 15, 2013 at 6:45 am


If you are a Dental avoider that means you are in a VERY BIG TROUBLE.

21 Gentle Dental Philadelphia March 11, 2014 at 8:22 am


Just like in other countries, Canadian dentists have specialized in different areas of dentistry.
Take preparation for the dental admissions test seriously.
However, one thing that a parent does not expect dental health to lead to is death.

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