Women in their 40s are more likely to be fearful of the dentist.
That’s according to new Australian research.
The Sydney University study found women in that demographic were most likely to have a ‘perceived traumatic dental experience’ that rendered them incapable of having a filling, extraction or even a routine check-up without general anesthetic or other sedation.
According to study co-ordinator Dr. Avanti Karve, a special needs dentist for the University of Sydney Faculty of Dentistry in Australia, 40% of the western population is affected by dental fear.
A recent telephone survey in Australia showed that a person with severe dental anxiety waits 17 days on average before making an appointment, as opposed to three days people without dental fears wait.
In America alone, Columbia University College of Dental Medicine estimates 30 million to 40 million avoid seeing the dentist because of anxiety and fear.
Dr Karve said women were more likely to be predisposed to dental anxiety even if they hadn’t had a bad experience in the chair.
‘Dental anxiety is very real and complex and it should never be downplayed,’ she said.
For the past five years, Dr Karve has run the Dental Phobia Clinic at the Westmead Centre for Oral Health, comparing those with genuine psychological fears with those who simply have a healthy aversion to needles, drills and other sharp metal objects being thrust in their mouths.
With more medical research linking poor oral health with conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, nutritional deficiencies and obesity, Karve said her study hoped to identify specific triggers of dental phobia with a view to finding a drug-free cure.