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Dental phobia is not a rare condition. Many people feel fear of dentist chair or dental drill. Because of that fear they show up at the dentist when it is very late or not at all and then suffer great consequences. But that fear can be overcome.
Tooth decay is one of the oldest diseases of the human race. People had caries for millions of years and still have it today. With the appearance of sugar cane and other types of sugar prevalence of caries increased and until the modern treatments of caries, both preventive and remedial, lessen the number and seriousness of caries cases.
Since the ancient times, we try to keep our mouth and teeth clean. Until we found out how bacteria work, we used some pretty unsanitary methods for that but in time we learned and today our hygiene standards are pretty high. Read more about history of oral hygiene.
Dental instruments progressed for nearly 9000 years and from very primitive tools they developed into sophisticated equipment that can still seam scary but not so much when you compare them with tools people fixed their teeth some 100 years ago.