The sad tooth: 6 in 10 adults are too scared to visit the dentist

NEW YORK — Feeling bristled? Imagine how your teeth might feel, especially if you’ve been putting off your annual checkup. If you have, you’re likely far from alone. A new study finds that six in 10 American adults are too scared to visit the dentist.

Researchers at Hello Products, a dental care startup, polled 2,000 adults in the U.S. on their oral hygiene habits, which led to some more-than-toothless findings.

Toothpaste on toothbrush
If you’ve been putting off your annual dental cleaning, you’re likely far from alone. A new study finds that six in 10 American adults are too scared to visit the dentist.

For instance, among the more stunning results, the survey showed that three in 10 millennials only brush their teeth once a day. Millennials also admit they’ve gone two or three days on average without brushing at all.

Yet, a convincing majority (56 percent) expressed fear or anxiety over losing their teeth, despite possessing slovenly dental habits.

“It’s crucial to take the right steps every day to maintain a healthy mouth,” reminds Craig Dubitsky, Hello Products’ founder. “This involves using effective oral care products, as well as being mindful of your daily habits.”

Going to the dentist was admittedly a phobia for most respondents — overall, 62% of adults surveyed said that they were too spooked to even visit a dentist’s office — but particularly among millennials, perhaps helping explain why their much-flaunted smiles appear to be at-risk. Millennials were more likely than those over 55 to create excuses to avoid regular dental checkups (56 percent to 36 percent, respectively).

“Going to the dentist has many advantages aside from ensuring you have pearly whites and bad breath prevention,” says California based dentist, Dr. Lawrence Fung, DDS, founder of Silicon Beach Dental. “Research has shown that there are many linkages to oral health and your overall health.

For what it’s worth, dentists were feared almost seven times as much as neurologists (9%), and more than twice as much as surgeons (26%). Fear of the dental chair was deep-rooted for many; the average respondent began to feel distressed by the age of 15, with many carrying feelings of unease before turning 10.

More stats: Three-tenths of those surveyed said they’d rather put in a full day at work than undergo a dental procedure, and a similar percentage said they would abstain from sex — for a month!

Two in 10 said they’d rather give a speech to a large crowd of people.

As for what tops of the list of dental visit phobias? Rounding out the top three were pain during treatment (74 percent), pain after treatment (47 percent), and the frightening noise of the dental drill (34 percent).

Negative past experiences (29 percent) and anesthesia-related fears (25 percent) were also common items of discomfort.

So how to make dental visits more comfortable? Do your research.

“While going to the dentist can be scary, some of the ways you can help alleviate those feelings is by seeking a dentist who truly places a high emphasis on creating a welcoming environment to make you feel comfortable,” says Fung. “When seeking a dentist, be sure to take a look at their bios and have an office tour to see if the place is welcoming.”

Put more bluntly, not brushing twice a day and skipping your biannual cleanings is sure to make you long in the tooth.