Dentists can sense your fear and it’s not good news; or is it?

A recent study on dental students has unveiled some interesting information involving a link between dentophobia and botched dental treatments. According to this study, which was carried out at the International School for Advanced Studies in Italy, dentists can subconsciously sense when a patient is nervous and it makes the dentist more likely to make mistakes.

The Study

The new evidence shows that our inner emotions can truly be sensed by others and that these emotions can, in fact, affect the behaviour of them too.

To carry out this study, 24 students volunteered to donate 2 shirts each to the cause. They were told to wear one during a calm lecture and another during a stressful exam.

The T-shirts were then treated with a chemical that hides the body odour.

A team of 24 students then performed dental procedures on mannequins wearing the shirts and they were all graded on their performance during the procedure.


When the students treated the mannequins wearing the ‘stressed’ shirts, they performed significantly worse than with the ‘calm’ shirts.

Those treating the ‘stressed’ patients were more likely to damage the teeth of the mannequin in comparison to when treating the ‘calm’ mannequins.

This suggests that the smell of anxiety may trigger a similar response in those that smell the anxious scent they give off.

The study didn’t show whether or not fully trained dentists are affected in the same way, but it aims to make dentists aware of the possible outcomes that may come from having stressed and anxious patients.

How can we calm down for the dentist?

Using breathing techniques, we can control anxious feelings and trick our body into relaxing, stopping it from producing that chemical which could make a dentist botch up a treatment.

A method is to exhale for twice the amount of time as you breathe in.

Alternatively, using a private dentist is said to help with nerves. This is because if the specially designed buildings and atmospheres they aim to create both in their waiting rooms and procedure rooms. It may also be rewarding to know that your dentist is highly trained to achieve the status as a private dentist.

Olivia Godfrey
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