Find Out Who is at Risk for Dental Anxiety


For some people, dental care experts are the scariest creatures on the planet. Studies have indicated that a trip to the dentist can cause more anxiety than a fear of snakes or spiders and it turns out that some individuals are more prone to dental anxiety than others.

According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, approximately 15 percent of Americans struggle with dental phobias. The fears include general dental anxiety, belonephobia (fear of needles), fear of embarrassment from having poor dental health, fear of pain and apprehension over drilling (used to create dental fillings) and fear of gagging. New research indicates that middle-aged women are the most scared of the all.

Dentist Scarier than Creepy Crawlies

Anxiety is both a psychological and physiological state that is considered to be a normal reaction to stress. Moments of fear, worry, uneasiness and dread are common for everyone. Research conducted by the British Dental Health Foundation have shown that one out of five adults ranked going to the dentist as their biggest trigger to dental anxiety.

The organization asked over 1,000 study participants what made them nervous courtesy of the Adult Dental Health Survey. After rating anxiety triggers including heights, flying, injections, doctors, snakes, spiders, hospital visits and dentist appointments, researchers concluded that fear of dental care providers and their handiwork caused the most stress. (

According to the research, the fear of the dentist was triggered by two of the most common dental treatments. Three out of ten survey participants (totaling 30 per cent) cringed at the thought of tooth drilling. Nearly an equal amount of 28 percent reported dental anxiety surrounding getting an injection of a local anesthetic.

Middle-Aged Women Suffer Most

Middle-aged women already have to struggle with a slew of injustices including earning less than their male counterparts, having their reproductive rights being decided for them and the fact that menopause is right around the corner. Additionally, research from the University of Sydney has shown that women in their 40s are also the biggest sufferers of dental anxiety.

According to the researchers, being a woman is tough as those in their 40s are more likely to be depressed, anxious or stressed and the cause is a history of trauma, abuse or oro-facial trauma. By observing the levels of dental anxiety in their study group, researchers found out that the fear can cause patients to wait an average of 17 days before going to the dentist for professional help for their dental problems.

Dentist Make Female Redheads Cringe

The dental anxiety can become even worse for middle-aged female redheads. Aside from redheads being naturally prone to having higher levels of dental anxiety, when combined with being a girl the process of getting a dental exam can be a nail biter for some.

Research published in Journal of the American Dental Association has indicated that redheads tend to have higher levels of dental anxiety triggered by a genetically caused fear of pain.

The team of U.S. researchers studied 144 white adults with different hair colors. The scientists were specifically looking for the MC1R gene variant. Additionally the team asked study participants about their levels of dental anxiety, dental fear in relationship to pain and if they avoided seeking dental care from a dentist as a result. In response, the researches found the gene variant in 65 of 67 redheads and 20 of 77 people with darker hair color. After reviewing the data, the scientists found that those with the genes reported higher levels of dental anxiety and subsequently, higher levels of lack luster oral hygiene.

Additional research has shown that redheads also tend to need larger doses of anesthetics in order to effectively block pain associated with dental care. New information conducted by scientists at the Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland, Ohio) and School of Dentistry at the University of Louisville, Kentucky has indicated that redheads may indeed feel pain more deeply. That fear is responsible for keeping them away from the dentist.

Regardless of your gender or hair care, preventative dentistry can help those in need become less fearful of a dentist. Individuals who opt to visit the dentist regularly for dental treatments, practice good oral hygiene, eat healthy food and who skip vices like smoking and drinking will naturally have lower levels of tooth decay, cavities and gum disease, thus eliminating many of the triggers of dental anxiety. Patients looking to find a dentist now can call 1-800-Dentist to get the name of a qualified provider close to home.