According to research released this week, Australians are terrified of a trip to the dentist, with more than half (53 per cent) declaring that they would rather face public humiliation and be caught with toilet paper attached to their shoe, or even fall over in front of a crowd. A third of Aussie men declared they would prefer to be caught with their fly undone, while women are more likely to keep a regular appointment with a doctor for a pap smear than a dentist.
According to new research by conducted online by Galaxy Research on behalf of Oral-B, in January this year, most Aussies are suffering from ‘Dentophobia’, with almost four in five (78 per cent) delaying a trip to the dentist.
Symptoms of ‘Dentophobia’ include sufferers lying about the length of time since their last check up and conjuring up feeble excuses in a bid to delay a dental visit. According to the Oral-B research, Dentophobia has reached pandemic proportions with an alarming eight in ten (83 per cent) admitting they are anxious about visiting the dentist.
For many, the anxiety experienced by just the thought of a dental visit is on par with other extreme fears, including bungee jumping or sky diving (according to 30 per cent of respondents), sitting an exam (30 per cent) or public speaking (39 per cent). For the lucky ones who beat their nerves to successfully make it into the dentist’s chair, almost as many find the sound of the drill just as nerve-wracking as the moment the drill hits a nerve.
According to Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Cindy Nour, while Dentophobia is a common and treatable phobia, it’s taking those first steps to make the initial appointment that can leave sufferers the most anxious.
“The research from Oral-B shows that ‘Dentophobia’ is a very real issue which is impacting on Australia’s oral health. The fear of visiting the dentist is held by many varies from mild uneasiness, experienced by most of us, to extreme fear, resulting in a patient avoiding the visit altogether. It is quite shocking to see that as many as five million Australians are waiting until they have a specific problem before they make that appointment with their dentist. Not only can putting off regular dental checks lead to more severe oral health problems in the future, the research demonstrates the extent of Dentophobia, which is often perceived as a light-hearted fear, that isn’t taken as seriously as it should be,” comments Dr Nour.
Cost is another deterrent cited for delaying check-ups, which is contributing to Aussie dental anxiety. However, the research shows that women spend more money on massages, facials and other hair / beauty treatments than they spend on their dental health. In the past year alone, women aged 18-24 spent more than double on beauty treatments than they spent at the dentist.
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