Solutions to Understand and Deal with Dental Anxiety, Fear of the Dentist, or Dental Phobia

| 7 min read

The fear is real. Ask anyone who fears a dental visit and they’ll unpack their feelings about it.

How to deal with dental anxiety can be easier when you understand the reasons and then retrain your mind around available solutions.

Let yourself off-the-hook

First, dental anxiety is a legitimate condition. You might refer to it as dental fear, dental phobia, or a general fear of the dentist or dental professionals.PullQuote_DentalAnxiety

However you frame it you’re not alone in dealing with dental anxiety or dental fear.

”Nearly 40 percent of all people have dental fear or anxiety (36%), with a small percentage suffering from extreme worry (12%).” [1]

”The Anxiety Disorders Association of America estimates that around 15 percent of Americans – over 45 million people – suffer from dental anxiety or dental phobia and it is probable that many more not included in this figure would identify themselves as experiencing dental fear or anxiety.” [2]

It helps to know what you’re facing

It’s essential to differentiate between the emotional conditions that are triggered by a dental issue, a dental visit, or a dental diagnosis.

Dental fear or fear of the dentist

Fear is described as a strong dislike of something or someone you prefer to avoid. You may or may not think about the situation or person all the time but the discomfort is present nonetheless.

Dental anxiety

Think of this as a feeling of uneasiness. Having dental anxiety might not keep you from a dental visit or a conversation with a dentist - you simply don’t look forward to it.

Dental phobia

This is a more intense emotional state. The fear and anxiety you feel are more extreme. Dentophobia” (as it’s referred to) often associates with bad experiences, pain, lack of control, sounds and smells, needles, etc.

The phobic side of dental fear or anxiety could prevent you from seeking dental care. Avoidance can also put your dental health at risk.

How to deal with dental anxiety, fear of the dentist, and/or dental phobia

The following recommendations are in no way intended to be dismissive about the reality of your personal relationship with dentistry - fear or otherwise. Allow the information to create awareness of solutions you can use to assure that you maintain good oral health.

Talk about it

Give yourself permission to (first) admit you have emotional challenges when it comes to dentistry. Again, remember that you’re not alone.

Once you’ve accepted that you have dental anxiety or fear of the dentist, start a conversation about it.

  • Inform your dentist that you’re uncomfortable, nervous, or uneasy about a dental visit or pending dental treatment.
  • Be open about your reasons for feeling anxious or afraid (e.g. past experience, pain, atmosphere, etc).
  • Ask questions. Clarify what your dental visit will look like, what will take place, who will be involved, how your dentist is equipped to deal with your anxiety/fear, etc.

Take action

Being proactive about your dental visit helps you feel a sense of control. Manage the parts of your anxiety/fear that you can.

  • Exercise your mind prior to your dental appointment. Use breathing techniques or other cognitive methods to create a calm emotional state.
  • Use mental or emotional distractions when necessary. Music, audio books, podcasts, visuals, video content, etc. can help during a scheduled treatment/procedure.
  • Request sedation options and utilize available solutions to help minimize and/or eliminate your fear and discomfort during a dental visit.

Take a moment

Push pause on your visit or procedure if you want to know what’s going to happen next or if you need clarification about your appointment, treatment, or procedure.

  • Ask your dentist, hygienist, and/or dental assistant for an explanation.
  • Allow yourself to take-in the room, chair, instruments to be used, etc. A somewhat hands-on approach provides you a connection to what’s going on instead of feeling acted upon.

A word about dental phobia…

Keep in mind that dentophobia” or deeper levels of fear/anxiety might not be solved on your own. Related anxiety, fear, or phobia could have deep roots and require ongoing professional therapy to source and solve.

A comfortable, convenient solution

Your reasons for avoiding a dental visit or dental care are personal. It’s to your advantage to be aware of the support and solutions that are available to help.

For example, virtual dental care solutions can connect you with an online dentist. The initial consultation is a comfortable and convenient opportunity to get acquainted with a dentist online.

  • Talk about your fear, questions, and concerns.
  • Get assurance about the details of your next steps.
  • Feel more in-control and relaxed about your dental care.

Schedule a “stress-free” online dentist consultation on a dedicated digital platform

The team of dental professionals are trained to identify, diagnose, and treat any dental condition. From toothaches to second opinions - you’re covered!

  • Access a 24 hour dentist now from your personal, private, and secure account.
  • Select a reason for your visit using a brief questionnaire.
  • Receive virtual dental care from a licensed dentist when you provide your issue details, any photos, and/or dental/health records.

Discover more about on our How it Works page. Or Register Now.