Scared of the Dentist? There’s a Gene for That?

Dentist - American Health Council

Psychology researchers at West Virginia University have discovered evidence of a genetic basis for fearing dental treatment.

Cameron Randall and Daniel McNeil report that dental care-related fear and anxiety is due, in part, to genetic influences inherited from parents. The study is one of the first to suggest that genetics, in addition to environmental factors, can be a basis for patients fearing dental treatment.

The study demonstrates that fear of pain, a problem related to but separate from dental fear, is heritable, too. The authors found that some of the genes that influence fear of pain likely also influence dental fear. This finding provides new information that clarifies how fear of pain may contribute to the development of dental fear.

Randall, a doctoral candidate in WVU’s Department of Psychology, says the study provides a more comprehensive conceptualization of dental care-related fear, an understanding that may improve dental care in the future.

“The most important conclusion of this study is that our genes may predispose us to be more susceptible to developing dental fear, perhaps through pain-related variables,” Randall said.

Read  the full article: Dreading your next trip to the dentist?