This is why you Should Avoid Being Nervous at the Dentist

For many people, visiting the dentist can result in heightened levels of anxiety. However, recent research has suggested that dentists can pick up on this – and it doesn’t impact their performance positively.

I’ve got a simple question for you this week – do you get nervous when you visit your dentist? If you do, he/she may be able to tell and the results may be quite painful.

This week’s insight relates to research undertaken by the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy and is linked to how we humans can smell others’ emotions – yes, you read that correctly! Research has suggested that humans can actually pick up the smells of other people when they relate to negative emotions, so, if you’re feeling anxious, it’s possible that another human can pick this up via their nose.

That isn’t to say it is easy – or even done consciously – but it’s certainly been proven and this week I’m turning to a great article in New Scientist Magazine who quote some really interesting research from the aforementioned International School for Advanced Studies who did some research into how dentists’ performance was affected by the smell of the patient they were working on.

In the study they got 24 students to wear t-shirts, firstly in a very relaxed informal setting listening to a lecture and then separately in a very difficult and very important exam, and then put them onto mannequins. They then asked the dentists to complete a dental procedure on the mannequins and found that the dentists made more mistakes when working on the mannequins wearing the t-shirts worn in the stressful exam than when working on those wearing t-shirts worn in the lecture.

The upshot of this is that if you go to the dentist feeling anxious and worried they may pick that up and they may, unfortunately, not work as well on your teeth as they would have done if you’d been feeling calm.

You’ve been warned!

Please don’t forget to share this vlog on social media and I’ll be back in a week’s time with some more Meetology® – the science powering superb social skills.

Jonathan Bradshaw
The Meetology® Lab


Singh, Preet Bano, et al. “Smelling Anxiety Chemosignals Impairs Clinical Performance of Dental Students.” Chemical senses (2018): bjy028.




About the Author:

Jonathan Bradshaw presents and trains internationally on the fascinating psychology powering exceptional interpersonal communication. He is Founder of the Meetology® Lab and leads the company’s team of behavioral psychologists in collating and sharing cutting-edge research on exceptional people skills. As an experienced and engaging keynote speaker Jon has presented at conferences and business events in over 30 countries and is an award-winning columnist and blogger. Learn more about him speaking at your next event via or connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.