Why are people afraid of the dentist? Even though it sounds like a topic of everyday discussions, it is not at all an unscientific research question. A study by British scientists with this title was published a few years ago.
Although many of us have never had nightmares about dental treatments, for sure everyone has heard about dental phobia from family, friends or acquaintances. Consequently, it is interesting and useful to get to know the reasons behind this unreasonable fear.
It is clear from the study that dental phobia is not a new topic in science. Researching the fear of dental treatments dates back nearly half a century and has thousands of pages of psychological scientific literature.
Approximately 36% of the total population suffers from dental anxiety and fear (DFA) and an additional 12% are extremely terrified of any dental procedures. This fear can seriously affect the dental health of the patients, which in many cases also affects their quality of life.
Fear of the dentist: dentophobia
Two different types of sources of DFA were identified by the psychologists: ‘exogenous sources’ and ‘endogenous sources’.
An ‘exogenous source’ can be a traumatic past dental event (direct experience) or the influence of a close person (indirect experience). According to the study, 50% of those affected by DFA had a traumatic dental experience as a child, which significantly determines their adult attitude towards dental treatments.
Psychologists have proven that those whose parents are afraid of dental treatments are much more likely to develop DFA themselves. Unlike these examples, when DFA has ‘endogenous sources’, it has to do with genetics, personality, and cognitive abilities.
According to the incredible findings of Swedish psychologists, by examining 2,000 twins, the conclusion is that DFA can have a genetic origin, so it can be heritable. It is bad news for the shy ones that introversion can be related to DFA. Another psychological study, examining 880 Finnish students, found that DFA negatively correlates to extroversion, while positively correlates to introversion and neuroticism.
In addition, researchers have found a link between intelligence and dental anxiety. Of the 40 children who had never been to a dentist before, those with a higher IQ were less frightened of the situation and showed fewer symptoms of anxiety.
Reading such interesting research findings, we can definitely say that it can have very complex reasons whether or not we are afraid of the dentist.
At Saint Lucas SPA Dental, our goal is to create a harmonious atmosphere for our patients. We make sure that all our patients are relaxed during the treatments and do not feel any pain. In case you feel that you cannot overcome your DFA, do not worry, you can choose anaesthetic dental treatments. Your fear can no longer prevent you from going to dentist!