A study in Japan in 2013 found that it’s not the prospect of pain that triggers fear in patients at the dentist but the sound of drills, suction instruments and other tools that are normal objects found in a dental surgery.
According to the study it is the way in which the brain processes the sounds that determines whether a patient feels anxiety or not. The sounds of dental drills and suction cups is not pleasant for anyone, but your fear levels are probably determined by whether it’s your left side or right side of the brain that processes the sounds.
According to recent studies, 75% of patients polled in a survey said they experienced no pain during dental procedures, but the number of people experiencing anxiety is much higher.
The study used brain scans to determine which elements of the brain were triggered during the sounds. And whilst the answer is not to give every patient receiving dental treatment a brain scan to see how anxious they are, there is definitely some learning about how psychiatrists might be able to help anxious patients.
According to an adult dental health survey in 2009, about 10% of the population have an extreme fear of the dentist.
The best cure for dental anxiety of drills is to avoid the need for them in the first place. Good oral health can prevent the need for treatment of tooth decay. Brush twice daily, floss and avoid sugary foods and drinks that are the primary cause of decay.