Dental phobias may be inherited from our parents says a West London dentist. For hundreds of years no pain relief was available to the patient of a dentist, and it may well be that this inherent fear gets passed down. The phobia is less apparent these days, and that could be down to a generation of people who have experienced the advances in dental care. There is a difference between an anxiety, a fear and a phobia, the basic difference is that an anxiety is a fear of the unknown, a fear is a feeling of vulnerability that affects people in many situations and the dentist is one such example. A phobia is quite different from the other two in that it is a fear of a known situation, the generation that grew up after the founding of the Health Service in the 1950s experienced a state granted dental service that wasn’t customer friendly. Dentistry has always been a professional on the peripheral of the medical professional, and as such it hasn’t had the research or scientific advances that the general medical professional has enjoyed. Thankfully today the old image of the dentist with the blood splattered apron and the evil smile is a thing of the past. In the 1950s, 60s and 70s school dentists sent us to sleep using gas, nick named `Laughing Gas` it certainly didn’t live up to its name. It sent the patient to sleep with a metal plug keeping the mouth open, when the patient woke up the pain was immediate and often severe. Thankfully today we get a gel on the gums so we don’t even feel the needle, then after the treatment the pain is still numbed for many hours, by the time the numbness is gone a few tablets will generally ease us through the full recovery. Dental phobia is slowly being eased from our genes, and it’s not a day too soon.