Dentists more scary than snakes and spiders

It’s not good news for dentists as the latest piece of research by the British Dental Health Foundation suggests that visiting the dentist makes people more nervous than snakes or spiders.

The research echoes last month’s Adult Dental Health Survey which revealed half of adults – especially women – were classified as having moderate to extreme dental anxiety.

The Foundation asked 1,004 people – in the lead up to National Smile Month 2011 – what made them most nervous from a list including heights, flying, injections, doctors, snakes, spiders, going to hospital and visiting the dentist.

Over one in five people rated visiting their dentist as the thing that made them most nervous – more than any other category.

Overall, statistically, heights topped the poll of biggest fears, closely followed by visiting the dentist and going to the hospital.

Snakes were rated fourth and spiders came fifth.

In comparison to doctors, dentists also struggled.

The Foundation discovered that nearly 10 times as many people (22%) were made most nervous by their dentists, compared to their doctor (2%).

The Adult Dental Health Survey points to two dental treatments in particular as the main cause of these nerves: three out of ten (30%) adults said that having a tooth drilled would make them very or extremely anxious.

A similar number (28%) of people reported equivalent levels of anxiety about having a local anaesthetic injection.

Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said: ‘Everyone in the profession knows that dental anxiety is a major barrier for many people to visit their dentist. What may prove concerning is just how poorly the profession rates in comparison to doctors. The comparison with snakes and spiders may appear frivolous, but it does suggest we still have a lot of work to do to build public confidence.

‘The issue of anxiety affects everyone in the profession. Collectively we need to work together and we hope that the whole profession will get behind this year’s National Smile Month campaign which starts on the 15 May 2011. The campaign offers the best opportunity for everyone to reach millions of people whose nerves and anxiety are directly affecting their oral health.’


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