Science Friday: The Truth About Why Redheads May Dislike Dental Care

The Truth About Why Redheads May Dislike Dental CareNew research published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, claims that a gene that occurs frequently in redheads causes them to experience “heightened anxiety” when they visit their dentist.

According to Prevention magazine and MSNMC, the study’s authors recruited 144 people for the study, 67 of whom were natural redheads, and 77 who were dark-haired. The participants answered survey questions about anxieties related to dental visits, and the researchers took blood samples that they later tested for specific gene variants common in people with red hair. People with one specific gene, MC1R, were more than twice as likely to report that they avoided dental care because of anxiety than people without that gene. Of the 85 people in the study with MC1R, 65 were redheads.

Being that I am a redhead and a daughter of two redheaded parents, I am not so convinced. My father disliked Novocaine and preferred to have dental care performed without it. This used to amaze our family dentist who always said my dad had a high tolerance for discomfort.

My mother is the same. Rarely can you get her to take an aspirin. Recently, I found myself in the emergency room of the hospital for stitches. The ER doctor commented on my high tolerance for discomfort while she was stitching me up.

I was raised around doctors and dentists and I have always enjoyed medical professionals. When I was growing up I spent my summers working in the medical office where my mother was the RN.  Our family dentist shared the same building. Maybe dental anxiety is more about how you are raised to look at the medical profession and not the color of your hair.

What do you think?

For more on this story see: Genetic Variations Associated With Red Hair Color and Fear of Dental Pain, Why Redheads and Dentists Don’t Get Along and Gingers Are Genetically Predisposed to Hate the Dentist, Says Science.

Sedation Dentistry Costs Vary Widely

This survey found 97% of responding dentists happily offering OCS. The average fee for oral conscious sedation is about $300. Some dentists don’t charge, whereas others ask as much as $650.

A third offer IV sedation, charging about $500. But intravenous sedation fees ranged from $250-$800.

Only 6% have general anesthesia capabilities. Ranging from $320 to $1200, anesthesia costs around $700.


Here are few comments from responding dentists:

  • “We often comp the sedation fee on big cases.” (California dentist)
  • “As a dentist certified in oral and IV sedation, I find oral sedation to be of limited benefit to my more anxious patients.” (New York dentist)
  • “We charge a higher fee for smokers, where they take longer to manage.” (Kentucky dentist)
  • “It is my opinion that dental anesthesiology will help dentistry and open the way for more training and treatment by dentists.” (Dental anesthesiologist)

Read more: The Cost of Dental Sedation? Usually, a Few Hundred Dollars

Dental Patients Pleasantly Distracted by TV

Though only about 400 US dentists have so far laid out $500 for the entertainment system, InChairTV has big dreams of distracting dental patients while dentists do their dirty work. The company is now selling advertising spots.

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Dental Phobia Proves Fatal for Young Girl

Dental Anxiety Leads to Death of 8-Year-Old Girl

Reports have surfaced that an 8-year-old girl in England died after developing a dental phobia so severe that she refused to eat.

Sophie Waller’s dental anxiety was so intense that doctors wanted to minimize the number of appointments she needed. So, in 2005, they decided to remove her baby teeth in one hospital surgery.

Unfortunately, following the surgery, young Sophie refused to even open her mouth to eat. She was fed through a tube and ate nothing but some watermelon. A month after her surgery, she died in her sleep.

Read more

Dental Anxiety, Asthma, and Other Dentistry News…

Some news highlights I thought I’d share with you…

  • According to a study recently released in Nature, viewing positive images of dentists and dentistry reduces dental anxiety in kids. In the study, children who saw these positive images in the waiting area immediately prior to their appointment had significantly lower levels of anticipatory anxiety and fear.
  • Thank heavens! The Chinese government has announced it is cracking down on the chemical fraud that has led to a number of tainted exports – pet food, cough syrup, and (most recently) toothpaste. Dental products in particular are receiving more scrutiny.
  • As if dental workers don’t face enough health hazards already (particularly from fillings!): new data suggests that cement in fillings may be linked to asthma in dental assistants. Awesome!

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