Fear the Dentist? You're Not Alone

A new study finds women are 2.5 times more likely to fear a visit to the dentist than men. But are the men telling the truth?

"Women are more likely to be honest about their feelings," says Brian Chanpong, a dental anesthesia practitioner in Vancouver, Canada, who worked on the University of Toronto study. "The typical male would be less likely to admit to being afraid of the dentist."

Men can in fact be real wimps, Chanpong and his colleagues say, and they think their survey is flawed in the sense that men underreport their fears.

"It's the young, healthy males who are the ones who often faint in the dental office," said Daniel Hass, a professor of dentistry at the university and a co-investigator.

Of the 1,100 Canadians surveyed, 5.5 percent were very afraid of seeing a dentist, and about half of those had cancelled or avoided a dental appointment as a result. That suggests that across all of Canada, more than 400,000 people may not have visited the dentist last year due to fear or anxiety.

The research is published in the June issue of the journal Anesthesia Progress.

Haas said the risk of gum disease and infection isn?t worth the wait, and his research team called for increased use of general anesthesia or sedation.

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