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Gender Basis Of Disgust With Dental Treatment

Dentalphobia, or the fear of dentists and of dentistry is not something that discriminates based on gender. But a recent study shows that women are more likely than men to be sacred or just plain disgusted at the sight or even the thought of dental work. Here is how the study was carried out.

Graz Does It Best

Graz Austria was the host of this study, and it involved 36 patients who were diagnosed as dentalphobic, and 36 who were not. In both cases the ratio of men to women was 1:1 (i.e.: 18 men and 18 women). They were shown pictures of dental treatments and ailments as well as of neutral sort of images, and were asked to rate how they felt upon viewing the images. They could choose between disgust, fear and arousal upon viewing said images. Aside from the self described results of how the patients felt, patient’s heart rates and facial expressions were also monitored to get the best result. 

According to the self ratings men and women slowed very slight variations and were essentially the same. Dentalphobic men and women both had the same high rate of self reported feelings of disgust when seeing dental treatments. But facial expressions told a very different story. While men reported feeling disgust, their facial expression was less often indicative of such feelings and many women cringed and then said that they do not feel disgusted. This is an interesting phenomenon and requires further attention. 

Social Indoctrination

These reactions make sense in light of social theory. Men are expected to behave without emotions, and an important part of living up to society’s ideal of masculinity is to be willing and able to suppress your emotions and your emotional needs, thus, when feeling disgusted a man may not react as such while a woman may have no such inhibition, because women are expected to be easily grossed out and dainty. This way women may not be as good at hiding their emotions than men are.

This has implications for dentistry. This means that when men encounter a dental problem they will be much more likely to shrug it off and put it off until later. This can lead to more frequent emergency dental treatments and problems. It is important to keep this in mind when dealing with male patients or if you have a men in your household.