Is fear of the dentist genetic?

is fear of the dentist genetic?We may be far removed from the experiences of yesteryear, but there’s still a lingering terror amongst certain people of the dentists.

Here at CK Dental practice in Bristol, we were alarmed to read this recent news story, which claims that up to thirty patients per day are ducking out of vital appointments at the Birmingham Dental Hospital, mainly due to odontophobia.

Seeing as the majority of patients have been referred there because they require work that is too complex for the average dental clinic, this is a huge problem – both for the people involved (as they’ll be struck off the waiting list and left to sort the problem out themselves) and the NHS (which isn’t in a position to throw money away).

DNA = Did Not Attend

While there are many reasons why people are not attending, from not being able to book a time convenient to their lifestyles to simply forgetting, it’s clear that some of the biggest myths about the pain of dental care are yet to be completely expelled.

But does fear of dentists run deeper than we first thought? According to a recent study conducted by West Virginia University, maybe it does.

The study – conducted by two members of the University’s Department of Psychology – concluded that some of the genes we inherit that harbour a fear of pain can also influence and prey upon dental fears. We’ve always believed that odontophobia was caused by learned behaviour in childhood – now it appears it may run even deeper than that.

What can you do to fight the fear?

Our advice, as always, is to be honest with yourself first and foremost. Being afraid of drills and needles is a natural response – but resisting steps to relieve and prevent years of future dental discomfort goes against all our natural inclinations to protect ourselves.

And if you’re worried about passing your fear onto your children, this guide we prepared earlier can help.

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