The Origins of Fears Related to the Dentist

Fear of the dentist is something Dr. Justin Marostica, a dentist in Tigard, encounters on a daily basis and he wants people to know that it is very common.  So, what are the major sources of fear in the dental environment?   A recent survey of dental fears found that the highest fear ratings were given to the sight of the syringe and sensation of the injection.  the next most fear producing stimuli were the sight, sound, and feeling of the drill, results no experienced dentist would find surprising.

In another related study examined the perceived antecedents of dental fear.  The specific category of comments most frequently cited by both fearful and non-fearful patients in forming negative and fearful reactions was, dentist behavior and personal characteristics.  The second most frequently cited category was pain during appointments.  In a study of low and high fear patients, it concluded that “although patients with high fear and low fear of dentistry report significantly different amount of fear in the dental situation, the rank order of their fears is about the same.  Our work in this area substantiates earlier research that demonstrated the importance of the dentist’s attitude to patient anxiety.”  Although it may be argued that the perceptions of patients may not be totally accurate, participants in these studies perceived their viewpoints as valid; valid or invalid, these perceptions of the dentist and his or her staff led to fear.

How common is fear of dentistry in the general population?  In a national survey of dental health it was found that of the 51% of the population who reported not seeing a dentist regularly, 9% gave fear as the primary reason.  In another study, it was found that between 5-6% of the general population and as high as 16% of school aged children avoided dental care because of fear.  More recently, a survey of fearful dental patients, found that 80% of the individuals considered themselves highly fearful and had put of making dental appointments.  50% had cancelled existing appointments because of fear.

All of this research has also revealed that women tend to rate themselves more fearful than men.  This research might be slightly askew as it might be that women are simply more willing to admit their fears than are men.  Regardless of who is more fearful, the problem that fear of the dentist creates is that people avoid the dentist.  By avoiding the dentist this reduces the oral health, increases risk of things like cavities, gum disease, and even oral cancer detection.  Helping patients with their fear of the dentist is what Tigard dentist Dr. Marostica enjoys and has tremendous success doing.  If you or someone you know fears doing to the dentist, call us today at 503-670-7088 and lets us help.