On March 30, 2009, as part of their Third Annual Root Canal Awareness Week, the American Association of Endodontists (AAE) put out a press release on Getting to the Root of Dental Phobia. They included a curious survey comparing people’s fears in four situations. Results are shown in the following bar chart (click to enlarge).
Flying on an airplane during a storm (57%) was feared slightly more than getting a root canal (52%). Getting a root canal was feared more than either public speaking or a job interview (42% for either).
Other survey results were that fear of the dentist affects more than 80 percent of Americans, more than half say fear may keep them from going to the dentist, and one-third admitted that their fear was based on hearing about someone else's experience rather than their own.
I got a root canal done back before I joined Toastmasters. Back then I probably would have ranked my fear for public speaking above getting a root canal. Now I would agree that it’s significantly below a root canal.
For me the scariest part of flying through a storm is going into clouds, and then losing a reference point for which way is up.