Your Fear of the Dentist Drill, as Explained by Neuroscientists

The whir of a dental drill can reduce some people to balls of fear. Underneath the shaking and racing heartbeats, people with dental anxiety cannot help but be baffled as to why they respond so. Science has an explanation.

Japan’s Study on Dental Anxiety

dental anxietyResearchers in Japan may have the answer that explain the illogical fear one experiences upon hearing suctions and dental drills.

Hiroyuki Karibe of the Nippon Dental University in Tokyo believes that understanding the brain’s response helps scientists assess how to help patients feel more relaxed. Together with a team of psychiatrists, Karibe asked 13 men and 21 women aged 19 to 49 to participate in a survey, which measured their dental fears.

Based on the participants’ scores, Karibe divided them into low- and high-fear groups. Participants underwent scanning through a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine (fMRI) while Karibe played a series of sounds. Volunteers heard suction tools and the screeching sound of drills.

Brain activity exposes rate of dental fear

According to the study, participants from the low-fear group suffered little to none of dental anxiety. Upon hearing the dental sounds, their right and left superior temporal gyri reflected more activity. Karibe explains that the sounds encouraged brain activity within the primary auditory areas.

Anxious participants offered different results. Rather than reflect activity in the auditory areas, Karibe reported more intense responses from a region known as left caudate nucleus. This part of the brain deals with learning and remembering sounds.

Intense fear may lead to worse teeth

People who dread the drill believe that a visit to the dentist drastically affects their life quality. Some patients drop by and vow to never return, while others have never set foot in a practice at all.

You might think that people fearful of the dentist would take better care of their teeth; unfortunately, the phobia does not follow the logic. Extreme fears of dental procedures affect how an individual cares for their set of pearly whites.

Fortunately, dental practices offer numerous options to subdue a patient’s anxiety. With painless dentistry options such as sedation, anxious patients need not worry anymore and can better care for their teeth.

Get rid of anxiety and care for your teeth better. Overcome your fear of the drill with Blue Sky Dentistry’s painless dentistry. Get in touch with us now for more details on how we can help you.

Understanding and Easing Dental Phobia

For most of us, the thought of going to the dentist has never failed to bring about various degrees of fear. In Ireland, 60% of the patients will feel anxious or nervous.

dental phobiaWhilst minor fear can be overcome, severe anxiety has prevented a sizeable portion of the population from seeking proper preventative care.

If you are among the majority, the fear is only triggered at the anticipation of the dental intervention. Meanwhile, those with dental phobia cannot drive by the dentist’s office without feeling physically ill.

Dental phobia is a more serious condition than mere anxiety. It leaves patients panic-stricken and petrified for reasons that they themselves believe are irrational. Despite this awareness, they are unable to do much about it.

Possible Causes of Dental Phobia

Different factors contribute to the development of dental phobia that are not necessarily connected to the mouth. The most common reason for avoiding the dentist is pain. The phobia can stem from an unpleasant or painful dental experience from an early age, or from different ‘horror’ stories told by others.

Other possible causes include fear of injection and lack of anaesthetic effect, a feeling of helplessness and loss of control, and embarrassment or loss of personal space.

Easing Dental Phobia

Dental phobia is destructive in many ways. Because it is stopping you from getting the dental treatment you need, you are at risk for serious tooth and gum problems. As your dentists, we want to help you ease some of that fear.

No two dental phobic patients are alike. While some can be convinced by facts, such as that modern dental treatment are practically painless, others are perfectly aware of the facts, but are dealing with more complex difficulties. In this case, we encourage you to express your fears openly so you can be as involved in the procedure as possible as we walk you through it.

We also offer IV sedation that induces a state of deep relaxation and a feeling of calmness while awake, which may cause you to forget everything that transpired.

We want nothing more than to improve your dental health and give you a healthy smile. Contact us today to know more about our painless dentistry options.