When describing our personalities, most of us probably wouldn’t include whether or not we’re afraid of the dentist. But a new study suggests that the two could be more directly correlated than previously thought.
Dental Anxiety and the NEO-FFI Inventory
A team of Spanish researchers recently investigated the relationship between dental anxiety and specific personality traits. They use a scale called the modified dental anxiety scale (MDAS) to track anxiety levels, and a personality inventory system called NEO-FFI to analyze the personality traits of their participants.
According to the NEO-FFI inventory, each personality is made up of five facets: Neuroticism, such as depression and hostility; extraversion, such as warmth and assertiveness; openness, such as fantasy and aesthetics; agreeableness, such as trust and altruism; and conscientiousness, such as order and self-discipline. Results simple measure the levels of each of these traits in any given person taking the assessment.
The results of these two assessments, plus information on whether or not the participant was a “bruxer” (bruxism is the conscious or unconscious grinding or clenching of teeth), were studied and conclusions were drawn.
All told, more than a third of the participants were bruxers, and those people were significantly more likely to experience dental anxiety in all dental situations, but particularly in teeth scaling and anesthetic injections. While older participants were less likely to suffer from bruxism, those with high neuroticism and extraversion indexes were proportionally more likely to brux.
The key finding of all this research was simple: Bruxism, dental anxiety, and the traits of neuroticism and extraversion were strongly linked.
What Can Be Done About Dental Anxiety?
Regardless of why you suffer dental anxiety, it can be incredibly damaging to your oral health. Whether it’s stopping you from making appointments as often as you should, pushing you to avoid necessary procedures, or even just making your dental appointments unpleasant, you shouldn’t have to suffer through fear and stress to maintain your oral health.
Step one to dealing with dental anxiety is communicating with your dentist about the problem. You may feel embarrassed to admit to your dentist that seeing them sends you into a cold sweat, but you shouldn’t — dental anxiety is incredibly common, with some estimate even suggesting that 75% of Americans experience it on some level.
If you’re honest with your dentist about your anxiety, they can help you navigate the oral health landscape without causing yourself stress or panic. Your dentist can change the way your appointments work to facilitate your anxiety, and may even suggest sedation dentistry.
In sedation dentistry, you’ll be provided with a pill to take before your appointment. By the time you’re in the dentist’s chair, you’ll feel very relaxed. You’ll be conscious, but nothing will cause you stress or fear. Later, you may not remember much of the procedure at all.
Sedation dentistry is a safe, reliable way to get the dental care that you need, even if your anxiety doesn’t want to let that happen. Call (407) 834-6446 or contact us online to make an appointment and learn more about sedation dentistry in Orlando.