Panic about a dentist's drill resembles fear of spiders
Few people like to go to the dentist. Many are afraid of lying helplessly in the dentist's chair with their mouths wide open and having to hear the drill. Researchers have now found that this panic about the drill resembles the pathological fear of spiders.
Panicking in front of drills like spider phobia Helplessly lying in the dentist's chair, mouth wide open and the buzzing sound of the drill in the head, a nightmare for dental phobics can hardly look worse. Researchers have now found that the panic about the drill is like the morbid fear of spiders and not, as previously assumed, that of blood, injury and syringes. This is the conclusion reached by Graz researchers in a recently completed project funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF).
Images of dentists with drills The Austrian scientists showed test subjects with dental panic and those who have no corresponding problems different images. They showed dentists with drills from a self-perspective, the muzzle of a pistol, disgusting motifs like maggots and neutral things like cups and irons. The researchers determined the brain waves of the test subjects, their pulse and how much they distorted the facial muscles.
Greater Anxiety and Increased Attention According to the researchers, dental phobics showed higher pulse and altered brainwaves when they saw images related to dentist visits. So you could measure greater fear as well as increased attention. "We observed that the phobics had a more active brain area in which optical stimuli are processed, so they stared at the images much more intensely and attentively," explained Anne Schienle from the Institute of Psychology at the University of Graz, the Austrian news agency APA.
Therapies from the treatment of animal phobias "In the treatment of animal phobias you already have a good repertoire of therapies that can now also be used for dental phobics." said Schienle. The exaggerated fear is not only bad for the nerves, but also for the teeth. If those affected avoid or postpone visits to the dentist, dental health ultimately suffers. This also reduces the likelihood that the next dental treatment will be relatively painless.
Women less anxious than men Even though there are no exact numbers about dental phobia sufferers, estimates suggest that about five to ten percent of the population of western states could be affected. Last year, a survey commissioned by the “Apotheken Umschau”, conducted by the opinion and research institute GfK, showed that around a third of men only go to the dentist when toothache has already started. They said they first took painkillers or used home remedies. The women interviewed, on the other hand, were less fearful. Only 16.5 percent of patients also only go to the dentist's office when pain is felt. (ag)
Image: Karl-Heinz Laube / pixelio.de