mental health Mandy Kloppers

5 Causes of Dental Anxiety and How to Overcome Them

share facebook twitter pinterest

If you’re one of the many Americans (about 48 percent!) grappling with severe dental anxiety, the thought of going to the dentist might send shivers down your spine. But here’s the kicker – this fear isn’t just a fleeting discomfort. It can have a real impact on your overall quality of life and oral health. Surveys reveal that a staggering 73 percent of folks dealing with dental anxiety find it hard to even show up for their dental appointments. And the consequences? Well, they aren’t pretty – we’re talking about serious implications for your teeth and gums. But don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Here’s a breakdown of why people fear the dentist and some practical tips to help you tackle those fears head-on. 

 Facing the Fear: What’s Behind Dental Anxiety 


  1. Fear of Pain

This fear often stems from a painful dental episode in the past or horror stories heard from others. 

Solution: The good news is that you’re not alone. Finding a dentist who understands your anxiety and specializes in making patients comfortable is key. Also, remember that dentistry has come a long way – modern treatments are often virtually painless. Plus, techniques like deep breathing and meditation can help relax your body, making you less sensitive to pain. 

  1. Numbing Side Effects

 Some folks worry about the aftermath of anesthesia – feeling dizzy, nauseous, or experiencing mouth and lip numbness. 

 Solution: Don’t hesitate to talk to your dentist about this fear. They can walk you through what to expect after receiving anesthesia, putting your mind at ease.

      3. Fear of Needles 

The fear of needles, especially during procedures like tooth extractions, root canals or dental implants, is real. Some are anxious about the sensation of the injection, while others just dread the sight of the needle. 

Solution: Dental professionals have got you covered. They use numbing gels, explain the process, and offer relaxation techniques to make the experience as comfortable as possible. 

     4. Loss of Control 

The vulnerability of sitting in that dentist’s chair with your mouth wide open can trigger anxiety. You’re literally in the dark about what’s happening.

     5. The Embarrassment Factor

Many folks with teeth in less-than-ideal shape feel embarrassed. They worry about their oral hygiene, possible bad breath, and the judgment they might face. 

Solution: Remember, dentists have seen it all. They’re trained to deal with every kind of dental situation. There’s no need to feel ashamed; your dentist is there to help, not judge. 


Overcoming Dental Anxiety: Here’s How 


  1. Prep Yourself Before the Visit

Self-care is your best friend here. Mindfulness techniques can make facing your appointment a lot easier. Breathing exercises, meditation, and muscle relaxation can be your secret weapons against anxiety. And hey, don’t forget about daily good habits like balanced meals, exercise, sleep, and taking care of your oral health. 

  1. Talk It Out with Your Dentist

Dental phobia? Let your dentist know. They care about your mental and emotional well-being as much as your teeth. Sharing your fears helps them prepare and tailor the experience to ease your worries. 

  1. Distract, Distract, Distract

Distraction can be your go-to technique. Instead of focusing on the dental procedure, focus on something else. Music, a fidget object, a friend or family member to hold your hand – these little things can make a big difference. 

  1. Secret Signals to the Rescue

If you’re worried about feeling trapped during a procedure, set up a signal with your dentist beforehand. Raising your left hand, for example, can let them know you need a break. 

  1. Consider Medication

For extreme cases of dental anxiety, medication might be an option. Talk to your dentist about nitrous oxide analgesia or general anesthesia. Your comfort matters, and dentists are there to make the experience as stress-free as possible. 


Final Thoughts 

So, there you have it – a blueprint to conquer dental anxiety. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. With the right strategies and an understanding dental team, you can face those appointments with confidence and walk away with a smile, both on your face and in your heart. 


Author Bio:  

 Shen Chao is part of Dr. Joshua Hong’s Smile Clinic. While working for the Smile Clinic, he’s gained first-hand experience with the questions and concerns that dental patients have. He has been writing to inform people about various dental topics to help his readers improve their oral health. When he’s not working, you can find him on a hiking trail with his dog or having a Sunday cook-out with friends. 

Mandy Kloppers
Author: Mandy Kloppers

Mandy is a qualified therapist who treats depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, trauma, and many other types of mental health issues. She provides online therapy around the world for those needing support and also provides relationship counselling.