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Why Do I Fear the Dentist? (Hint: It Could Be in Your Genes!)

Dec 28, 2016

In a recent study conducted by researchers at a West Virginia University, interesting new insights were found into why some people fear the dentist. The researchers found that some of the genetic factors that cause people to fear pain also make patients more likely to fear the dentist.

This is one of the first instances where fear of the dentist has been linked to biological factors in addition to environmental factors.

Reasons for Fear of the Dentist

There are three main reasons why people fear the dentist: fear of embarrassment, fear of having a lack of control, and fear of pain. While people that fear embarrassment or a lack of control may muster up the courage to visit the dentist anyway, fear of pain is more likely to keep patients out of the office.

By understanding more about why patients fear the dentist, researchers, doctors, and dentists hope they will find new ways to help patients overcome these fears and receive the care that they need.

Expectation of Pain

The expectation of pain has shown to have a powerful influence on how people feel about their dental visits. Patients that expect a dental visit to be painful are much more likely to later report that a visit was painful compared to patients that don’t expect a visit to be painful. This shows that there are cognitive and emotional factors at play in the experience of pain, as well as the physical sensations.

Treating Dental Anxieties

Treating dental anxieties takes work on the part of both the patient and dentist –and begins outside of the dentist’s office.

If you know that you have a fear of the dentist, it may be helpful to try to pinpoint the reasons behind your anxieties. Before even making an appointment, look for a dentist whose image and reputation makes you feel comfortable and talk to them about your fears.

Overcoming Embarrassment

If you’re embarrassed about your teeth, staying away from the dentist can make your embarrassment even worse. Performing good home dental care for a few days before seeing a dentist may help you to feel a little more comfortable. Talking to the dentist about the reasons behind your embarrassment can allow the dentist to propose solutions that may fix the issues for good.

Sedation Dentistry

If fear of pain or of a lack of control while cleanings and procedures are being performed is at the root of your dental anxiety, sedation dentistry might help you to receive care without the stress. Sometimes, not being cognizant of the proceedings at all is more comfortable than only being able to see and feel some of what is going on.

Being asleep for the visit will allow the dentist to clean, examine, and repair your teeth as needed. You will then wake up to a cleaner, healthier smile.

If you fear going to the dentist, call 904-269-6558 to find out how our team might be able to help.

For informational purposes only.