Dentists smell fear

Recent research reveals that dentists can not only smell fear, but that when they do their job performance significantly declines. From New Scientist:

The researchers asked 24 student volunteers to each donate a T-shirt they had worn during a stressful exam, and another worn at a calm lecture. The team doused the T-shirts with a chemical that masks body odour, so that no one could consciously smell it. A separate group of 24 dental students said they couldn’t detect any difference between the two sets of shirts.
Next, examiners graded the dental students as they carried out treatments on mannequins dressed in the donated T-shirts. The students scored significantly worse when the mannequins were wearing T-shirts from stressful contexts. Mistakes included being more likely to damage teeth next to the ones they were working on.

So, if your fear causes your dentist to start making more mistakes, I assume that will only increase your fear, causing your dentist to make even more mistakes, leading to a downward-spiraling cycle of terror.

The academic study is here.

     Posted By: Alex - Tue Jun 05, 2018
     Category: Experiments | Psychology | Teeth

Two things come to mind:

1) Steve Martin's role as the sadistic dentist in "Little Shop Of Horrors"
2) The title of the movie "Naked Gun 2 1/1: The Smell Of Fear." How did the scriptwriters know?

Posted by KDP on 06/05/18 at 11:25 AM
This is why I always ask for nitrous oxide (laughing gas).
Posted by Judy on 06/05/18 at 11:43 AM
That's it. Next time I go to the dentist, I'll bring Valium and Ambien. Valium for me, Ambien for the dentist.
Posted by Yudith on 06/05/18 at 11:53 AM
Yeah... because 24 is definitely a scientifically significant sample...
Posted by Richard Bos on 06/08/18 at 02:49 PM
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