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>> Home >> Dental News - Dental Videos

1 in 5 women suffer extreme fear of dentists

Placed by : Dental News Worldwide

By WebMD Health News - A trip to the dentist can be daunting for many - but for nearly one in five women and one in 10 men it is far worse because of ‘extreme dental anxiety’.

The insight into our oral health secrets come in new figures released by the NHS Information Centre and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in the biggest adult dental survey for a decade.

The 2009 Adult Dental Health Survey researchers talked to more than 11,000 adults and looked in the mouths of nearly 6,500.

Measuring fear
How can you tell how scared someone is of that voice saying ‘open wide’? Statisticians used something called the Modified Dental Anxiety Scale.

Patients were asked to rate the level of anxiety they would feel for various dental situations, including the need to go for dental treatment, sitting in the waiting room and waiting to have a filling.

30% of all adults were extremely anxious about having a tooth drilled and 28% were extremely anxious about having an injection.

The survey finds younger adults are more likely to be afraid of the dentist than older ones - 15% of 16 to 24 year olds compared with 9% of over 85s.

Face the fear
Experts say the key to coping with dental anxiety is to discuss your fears with your dentist. Once your dentist knows what your fears are, he or she will be better able to work with you to determine the best ways to make you less anxious and more comfortable. If your dentist doesn't take your fear seriously, try to find another dentist.

A greater percentage of adults in Wales have dental problems than in England, even though more people in Wales see a dentist regularly.

In adults aged 16 and over:
One in 10 in Wales has no natural teeth, compared to around one third in 1978. In England the figure is around one in 17, compared to three in ten in 1978. In Northern Ireland, the figure is around one in 14, compared to a third in 1978
Eight out of 10 people in Wales have enough teeth needed to eat comfortably compared to seven out of 10 in 1978
Nearly seven in 10 adults in Wales have regular dental check-ups compared to just under four in 10 in 1978. In England and Northern Ireland the 2009 figure is around six out of 10 adults
Across the UK, people from managerial and professional households have a better level of oral health
In a statement Ian O’Sullivan from ONS says: “The survey shows that, although Wales still has more serious dental problems than England, the overall picture of the state of the three nations’ teeth has greatly improved since the first Adult Dental Health Survey was conducted in 1968.”

Dentists' reaction
In an emailed statement, Professor Damien Walmsley, the BDA’s scientific adviser says: “Dentists are skilled practitioners who want to put patients at their ease. Increasingly, dentists undertake additional training in techniques, such as hypnosis, sedation and acupuncture, to make the experience comfortable for patients who feel especially anxious about having dental treatment."

Overall, he’s encouraged by the findings: “This survey confirms that the condition of people's teeth overall has got much better since this survey was first carried. Fluoride toothpaste, greater awareness of the importance of a healthy diet and regular visits to the dentist have all undoubtedly contributed to the better dental health we see in adults today.”

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