Our Survey Shows Many People Are Still Afraid of the Dentist

And that lots would consider dental sedation to put themselves at ease.

As dentists, we know that not everyone is comfortable with what we do — just the thought of making an appointment for a procedure can make some people break out in a cold sweat. While it’s certainly not true for everyone, there’s something about dentists — more so than any other profession (although, also maybe the taxman) — that can and does strike fear into the hearts of patients and make having a procedure done an oftentimes excruciating experience.

For whatever reason, dentophobia, or fear of the dentist, is incredibly common here in Ireland and right around the world. Millions of people are afflicted by it — women more than men, by a slight margin, it turns out — and it could be because people have heard tales of painful experiences at the dentist, perhaps from older people, stemming from a time when dentistry wasn’t so advanced. It can also be a fear of having instruments in your mouth and psychologically blocking your airway that’s vital to keeping you alive. Many people are afraid they’re going to have a lot of pain, as it’s a sensitive area with gums and lots of teeth full of nerves. Thankfully, we can use dental sedation to erase all these fears and put people at ease in the dentist’s chair.

We wanted to know what Irish people think of dentophobia and to what extent it exists in this country. This month, we commissioned Google Surveys to poll Irish adults and get their views on the dentist and if they would consider having dental sedation to overcome any worries and anxieties they might have. Dental sedation, by the way, is usually given in a pill or gas form — “laughing gas”, or nitrous oxide, to give it its real name — and these wear off quickly. For deeper dental sedation, an intravenous drip can be used; a patient can also be put under with general anaesthetic, although it’s generally quite rare.

What Did Our Dentophobia Survey Reveal?

Our survey found that 18.6% of those polled (28.6% male, 53.6% female) said they were usually nervous or anxious when they had an upcoming dental appointment, a figure that’s based on a sampling of the population and when extrapolated out around the country, represents a sizeable amount of people with fears of the dentists.

The poll also showed that 13.3% (50% male, 35% female) said they were “terrified of the dentist”, while 10.8% said they sometimes were anxious when they were due to have an appointment for a procedure, such as an extraction or filling. Over a quarter (25.8%) felt their fears were negatively affecting their oral health, but the majority of respondents (57.2%) had no unease about dentists at all.

Worryingly, a combined 37.6% of those who took part in the survey — over one-third — said their fears of the dentist meant they would put off going for procedures, avoid attending appointments altogether or would try to go but were not sure if they had the courage to do so.

Again, the majority (62.4%) had no qualms about making dental appointments and having procedures done. Perhaps this is a sign that more people than ever realise that modern dentistry is almost always relatively comfortable and painless and that these days, you hardly even feel the prick of a needle when you’re having a local anaesthetic.

What About Dental Sedation?

Asked if they would consider dental sedation to put them at ease before a dental procedure, almost one-third of respondents (32.5% — 39.2% male, 49% female) said they would. Others (16.6%) said they would need to know more about dental sedation before going ahead with it, while 8.3% said they were not sure and 42.7% — the majority — said they would not have it for a dental procedure.

In some much-needed good news for dentists, a combined total of 38.9% said that if dental sedation was an option for them when they visited the dentist and had something done, it would change the way they view dentists and what they do — in an entirely positive way.

If you have fears or anxieties about going to the dentist and would like to know more about dental sedation so that you’re much more relaxed, contact The James Clinic today and we’ll be happy to explain everything to you.