Scared of the Dentist? Blame Biology and Your Parents.

Common fearsPeople pass around the stories like appetizers at a cocktail party, the one about the dental visit that jumped started a fear preventing them from scheduling cleanings or annual visits even years later.

As many as 75% of United States adults experience some degree of dental fear, from mild nervousness to full-fledged terror. Even taking kids out of the equation, that’s still one in five adults, many who point to a single incident as the cause.

But that might not be the whole story, according to researchers at the University of Oslo’s Section for Paediatric Dentistry and Behavioural Science. Biology and our environment play a significant role.

The Evolution of Dental Fear

This dread could all be in your head, well, your brain, research indicates.

Even during a gentle cleaning, a patient must recline back, open her mouth and allow a relatively-unknown person to crawl into her personal space.

The brain interrupts this as vulnerable position, one where airways are easily blocked and predators can attack. Carefully-honed survival skills kick in to alert you to danger. This results in a raised heartbeat, sweating and other stress reactions.

Blame Your Parents

There is a reason your parents constantly warn you about danger. Hint: It’s to keep reckless toddlers alive. And, after touching a hot stove once or twice, most of learn to value our parent’s opinion.

This is never truer than during a child’s first office visit with us. If a parent is obviously nervous and scared, a child easily picks up that vibe and internalizes it. Essentially, the young patient borrows mom and dad’s fear.

You will notice at our office we don’t conduct any painful or uncomfortable procedures during the initial consultation. That’s because we want to create a positive memory.

Cycle of Avoidance

Roughly, 5 to 10 percent of adults in America experience dental phobia so strong they avoid all contact with a dentist, skipping preventive care. This leads to dental emergency and often extensive treatments, which only serve to reinforce the fear.

Talk to us about your dental fears. We have not only sedation options but we utilize calming techniques to help you adjust. Your dentist will share information about the procedure before moving forward.

About Calcagno Family & Cosmetic Dentistry:

We will work with you to decrease your anxiety with both sedation options and calming techniques. Visit Calcagno at 1801 Greenview Drive S.W., Suite 101, Rochester, MN, 55902 or call 507.281.3659.