Fight Your Fear of the Dentist for Better Teeth
Nervous people must fight their fear of the dentist as those who are frightened of the chair are more likely to suffer from poor oral health.
Research by the University of Otago found that people who are apprehensive about visiting the dentist on a regular basis have more decayed or missing teeth compared to those who have constant checkups.
A team lead by Professor Murray Thomson, of the University’s Department of Oral Sciences, studied the dental habits of over one thousand people aged between 15 and 32.
Nervous participants were split into three groups consisting of those who had always been dentally anxious, people who developed dental anxiety in adolescence and those who became dentally anxious in adulthood.
It was discovered that those who were always afraid of the dentist had greater tooth decay since five years of age and were sometimes so frightened of the dentist’s chair that they would avoid a visit until it became an emergency.
People in the adolescent-onset anxious group had an increased chance of tooth decay from the age of 15, while those were anxious from adulthood most probably lost teeth during the ages of 26 and 32.
Deeper probing into the characters of those in the anxious groups of the study found that they tended to have negative personalities and would often have anxieties relating to other issues outside of dentistry such as heights or spiders.
Professor Thomson said the study could help dentists better understand how to deal with people with a nervous disposition and how their personalities affect how they approach dental matters.
“This gives the dental profession a good understanding of what makes people dentally anxious, and to be mindful that some people can grow out of it,” he said
Professor Thompson went onto say that the public should learn from the outcome of this research and visit the dentist more often as this will result in better oral health and a brighter smile.
He said: “For the public, it’s useful to know that, if you take the path of least resistance and avoid dental care, then in the end you will be worse off, not only dentally but also in terms of appearance, social interactions and your quality of life.”
Overcoming a fear of the dentist as soon as possible will give people a greater chance of avoiding painful procedures such as root canal treatment and tooth extraction which can occur if an oral issue is ignored.