Report: Women in their 40s face dental anxiety

March 21, 2012
Issue 3

Varying levels of dental anxiety are common among your patients. Here's why you should pay close attention to women in their 40s. A Sydney University study says that this specific age group is likely to have a "perceived traumatic dental experience" that keeps them from following through with treatment procedures.

Varying levels of dental anxiety are common among your patients. Here's why you should pay close attention to women in their 40s. A Sydney University study says that this specific age group is likely to have a "perceived traumatic dental experience" that keeps them from following through with treatment procedures.

Visiting a dentist is enough to make most people's palms a little sweaty, let alone the bill at the end which leaves you weak at the knees.

But for some it is a genuine and debilitating phobia.

Research has found women in their 40s are more likely to suffer dental anxiety and phobia than any other age group.

The Sydney University study found women in that demographic were most likely to have a "perceived traumatic dental experience" that rendered them incapable of having a filling, extraction or even a routine check up without general anesthetic or other sedation.

Lead researcher Dr Avanti Karve said women were more likely to be predisposed to dental anxiety - even if they hadn't had a bad experience in the chair.

"Dental anxiety is very real and complex and it should never be downplayed," she said.

"A recent survey found a person with severe dental anxiety waits on average 17 days to make an appointment when in severe pain, as opposed to three days in the remaining population."

For the past five years Dr Karve has run the Dental Phobia Clinic at the Westmead Centre for Oral Health, comparing those with genuine psychological fears with those who simply have a healthy aversion to needles, drills and other sharp metal objects being thrust in their mouths.

With more medical research linking poor oral health with conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, nutritional deficiencies and obesity, Dr Karve said her study hoped to identify specific triggers of dental phobia - eventually leading to a drug-free cure.

Sydney University's dean of dentistry Professor Chris Peck said the next step was to look at the relationship between pain perception, pain coping and dental anxiety and measure the success of drug and drug-free treatments.

Source: The Daily Telegraph