Brits prefer spiders to oral health

Not your average British dentist.

Dental anxiety is on the agenda in Britain following surveys by the British Dental Health Foundation that suggest that visiting the dentist makes people more nervous than snakes or spiders. The research echoes last month’s Adult Dental Health Survey which revealed half of adults were classified as having moderate to extreme dental anxiety.

The report is online here. The Foundation asked 1,004 people what made them most nervous from a list including heights, flying, injections, doctors, snakes, spiders, going to hospital and visiting the dentist.

Over one in five people rated visiting their dentist as the thing that made them most nervous. Overall, statistically, heights topped the poll of biggest fears, closely followed by visiting the dentist and going to the hospital. Snakes were rated fourth and spiders came fifth.

In comparison to doctors, dentists also struggled. The Foundation discovered that nearly 10 times as many people (22 per cent) were made most nervous by their dentists, compared to their doctor (two per cent).

The Adult Dental Health Survey points to two dental treatments in particular as the main cause of these nerves: three out of ten (30 per cent) adults said that having a tooth drilled would make them very or extremely anxious.

A similar number (28 per cent) of people reported equivalent levels of anxiety about having a local anaesthetic injection.

Dr Nigel Carter, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said: “Everyone in the profession knows that dental anxiety is a major barrier for many people to visit their dentist. What may prove concerning is just how poorly the profession rates in comparison to doctors. The comparison with snakes and spiders may appear frivolous, but it does suggest we still have a lot of work to do to build public confidence.

“The issue of anxiety affects everyone in the profession. Collectively we need to work together.”


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  1. Simply advertising that we acknowledge that this problem has been created and that we are prepared to work through it with the victims of post traumatic stress must be a good start to rebuilding public confidence.


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