The Following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research.
(Image credit: Teddychen81)
by Kurt Vial, Improbable Research staff
Bits of Dental Fear
“Good Teeth, Bad Teeth, and Fear of the Dentist,” Richie Poultona, et al., Behaviour, Research and Therapy, vol. 35, no. 4, April 1997, pp. 327–34. The authors, at the University of Otago, New Zealand, explain that:
[Our] intriguing finding suggests that relatively brief dental treatment occasioned by low levels of dental disease may result in the incubation of dental fear in some individuals.
Dental Fear: Comparing Apples and Oranges
“Effects of Pleasant Ambient Fragrances on Dental Fear: Comparing Apples and Oranges,” Alexander Toet, Monique A.M. Smeets, Elly van Dijk, Davina Dijkstra, and Lieke van den Reijen, Chemosensory Perception, vol. 3, nos. 3–4, December 2010, pp. 182–9. The authors, at Utrecht University, the Netherlands, explain:
Previous studies showed that orange odor reduces the anticipatory anxiety and improves the mood of patients waiting for scheduled appointments in small dental practices. We replicated these previous studies in the setting of three large dental clinics. In addition, we investigated whether another pleasant fruity smell (apple odor) is similarly associated with reduced anxiety.... Statistical analysis showed no significant difference between the responses of patients in each of the three experimental groups. We therefore conclude that orange and apple odors have no effect on the anticipatory anxiety or mood of patients waiting for scheduled appointments in large dental clinics.
The Dental Fear of Redheads (1)
“Genetic Variations Associated with Red Hair Color and Fear of Dental Pain, Anxiety Regarding Dental Care, and Avoidance of Dental Care,” Catherine J. Binkley, Abbie Beacham, William Neace, Ronald G. Gregg, Edwin B. Liem, and Daniel I. Sessler, Journal of the American Dental Association, vol. 140, no. 7, 2009, pp. 896–905. The authors, at the University of Louisville, the University of Colorado Denver, the University of Hartford, and the Cleveland Clinic, explain:
Background. Red hair color is caused by variants of the melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) gene. People with naturally red hair are resistant to subcutaneous local anesthetics and, therefore, may experience increased anxiety regarding dental care. The authors tested the hypothesis that having natural red hair color, a MC1R gene variant or both could predict a patient’s experiencing dental care–related anxiety and dental care avoidance....
Results. Eighty-five participants had MC1R gene variants (65 of the 67 red-haired participants and 20 of the 77 dark-haired participants) (P < .001). Participants with MC1R gene variants reported significantly more dental care–related anxiety and fear of dental pain than did participants with no MC1R gene variants. They were more than twice as likely to avoid dental care as were the participants with no MC1R gene variants, even after the authors controlled for general trait anxiety and sex. Clinical Implications. Dentists should evaluate all patients, but especially those with naturally red hair, for dental care–related anxiety and use appropriate modalities to manage the patients’ anxiety.
The Dental Fear of Redheads (2)
“Redheads and Fear,” Allan S. Berger, Journal of the American Dental Association, vol. 140, no. 10, October 2009, p. 1219. The author, at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., writes:
A letter to the editor is presented in response to the article “Genetic Variations Associated With Red Hair Color and Fear of Dental Pain....”
I would like to suggest a simple procedure to reduce anxiety and oral pain through the use of a physiological/psychological maneuver.
After receiving reassurance from the dentist, the patient holds three or four ice cubes in each hand, enclosed in a plastic sandwich bag or wrapped in hand toweling. The dentist then instructs the patient to massage the ice, using the thumb especially. Simultaneously, both for distraction and to gain the patient’s attention... the patient is asked to count in his or her mind backwards from 100 to one.
The article above is from the January-February 2015 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!
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