If we look at history, about 150 years ago, there was no anaesthetic to reduce or eliminate the pain during a treatment.
To understand, what dental treatment or any other surgery meant at that time, one just needs to imagine the state of mind of a patient who was going for a tooth extraction or the cutting out of an abscess without any injection. Operations and the treatment at the dentist were undoubtedly experiences which involved pain for all patients.
This was a necessary evil that everybody tried to avoid. Only the introduction of painkilling methods in the middle until the end of the 19th century like the etherisation, laughing gas and local anaesthesia-, made invasive medical and dental therapies less terrifying.
Never-the-less, although in our days dental treatment under local anaesthesia is nearly painless, patients perceive the treatment as unpleasant and menacing. Dental phobia is omnipresent in a dentist’s everyday life and because of its effects on the patient and the caretaker it is of great interest. Even today, approximately 5-10% of the German population avoid a dentist visit completely.
Only 20-30% visit the dentist without any fear, 60% go for dental examination regularly, but this only with a more or less distinctive frightened feeling. A random telephone survey revealed that more than 50% of the population go to the dentist with a greater or lesser degree of anxiety. Even if the larger part went regularly, 36% did not visit their dentist last year. 5-15% showed such extreme fear that they would only go to the dentist, if it was absolutely necessary.
Another survey with 6 000 patients proved that 43% of the candidates avoided the dentist's visit until there were problems with their teeth. 58% of the people avoiding the dentist explained their behaviour as being caused due to the fear of pain. As the main reason for the development of their phobia, a traumatic experience during a dentists visit was mentioned. Traumatic experiences in the treatment chair have been reported by 86% of the nervous patients of which the prevailing part (70%) had already happened during their childhood. The general opinion is that anxious patients are more sensitive to pain than less anxious patients.