Does Age Have Anything To Do With Dental Fear Levels?

Posted on Aug 11, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

If you think that 65+ adults have more dental fear than younger adults, a recent study dispels that assumption. Based on careful analysis of 1,400 participants, no age group has any more or less than another.

The origin of dental fear today often stems from traumatic experiences of the past. Couple this with the fact that a number of older adults experienced dental care during a time that was less focused on comfort than today. Thus, the assumption has been that they have higher fear levels.

However, to determine if the age of an individual is actually a factor in dental fear, 1,400 adults of all ages were categorized by age, sex, education and frequency of dental visits. Each completed a questionnaire that was specifically designed to measure dental anxiety and fear levels.

The findings, published by the National Institutes of Health, were based on comparisons of five age groups. While female participants showed higher fear levels (approx. 10%) than males (8%), there was insignificant difference between any of the five age groups. Only study participants who did not complete high school and those who had avoided dental care showed higher fear levels.

Also reviewed in the study were factors that triggered fear, most often occurring in the form of increased heart rates. The most common element that created anxiety or fear was perceived pain from seeing the needle. To adults with deeply-embedded dental fear, perceived pain is just as uncomfortable as real pain.

Often due to fear issues, many patients come to us because their lack of dental care has resulted in the need for periodontal treatment. And, as a Periodontist, I also place dental implants in a number who lose teeth due to advanced periodontal disease.

Our goal is to provide an environment that is sensitive to the comfort of ALL patients. We offer relaxation medications and a staff who are specially trained to attend to the unique needs of fearful patients. Once patients realize our commitment to their comfort, long overdue dental treatment can often begin without fear.

If anxiety or fear has prevented you from a healthy smile, consider beginning with a consultation. In this, we’ll sit in a private room that’s removed from the clinical side of the practice. Begin by speaking with our friendly phone staff so we can personally discuss the many features available to optimize your comfort at all times. Call (828) 274-9440 to arrange an appointment that is convenient for you.

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