Dental Fear and Anxiety: How to Overcome It?

Dental Fear

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Dental fear and anxiety of going to the dentist may cause you to delay or avoid your needed dental care. It can also cause poor dental hygiene for some. So, how can someone overcome this condition?

Conquering dental fear and anxiety is about finding the right dentist. Don’t hesitate to talk to experts who will reassure your thoughts and emotions and provide the dental service. You can also bring support like a family member or close friend when you visit your dentist.

Dental anxiety, like other traumas, can be because of an awful experience. It could also associate with specific triggers like needles, drills, or the dental setting. So if you are experiencing this fear, let’s dig into its typical causes and how you can beat it.

How To Know If You Have Dental Fear and Anxiety?

It is often a sign of dental phobia if dental anxiety becomes severe, resulting in irrational fear and avoiding the dentist at all costs. Some patients may even feel sweating, racing heartbeat, or palpitations. In worst cases, dental fear and anxiety may cause low blood pressure and the possibility of fainting.

Some anxious patients will miss dental appointments regularly and may have difficulties undergoing dental treatment. It includes even the most straightforward procedures, like general teeth cleaning.

What Happens If You Avoid Dental Visits?

Avoiding the dentist can lead to the progression of dental disease. It can lead to the need for more emergency care or more complicated treatment. You can prevent dental diseases with routine dental checkups, teeth brushing, and screening X-rays. It also aids the dentist in detecting any issues early on.

As a result, they will use less invasive and less complicated therapies. Most dental disease is preventable, and you can improve it with a proper lifestyle. When you stop going to the dentist, you’re making the chances of needing more complex procedures high. Plus, you’re also losing out on learning how to take care of your teeth.

The lifestyle factors that cause dental disease are very close to those that cause diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers. Thus, it’s essential to pay attention to your oral and overall health.

Why Do Some People Have Dental Fear and Anxiety?

According to research, people may have dental fear and anxiety because of exogenous factors such as direct learning from traumatic experiences. It could also result from getting wrong information from others and the media. Sometimes, people with endogenous factors such as heredity, and personality traits may quickly get dental fear and anxiety.

The evidence shows that the etiology of dental phobia, anxiety, or fear is multifactorial and complex. The findings show that current research in this area has solid functional implications – a better understanding of dental fear, anxiety, and phobia can prevent treatment avoidance.

Dental anxiety or dental fear affects approximately 36% of the US population, with a further 12% suffering from extreme dental fear. This anxiety can have severe repercussions in terms of an individual’s oral health. Experts also consider it as a significant barrier to the inferior dental attendance of patients.

How To Overcome Dental Fear and Anxiety?

People avoid visiting their dentists because they are afraid of pain, particularly pain caused by needles. Others feel disturbed by the drilling and tooth grinding noises. Some patients are not comfortable with the unknown and are reluctant to try new things. So, here are seven tips for facing your dental fear and anxiety.


Tip #1 – Find the Right Dentist

First, you must seek a qualified dentist, ideally one who specializes in treating patients with anxiety and dental phobias. Feeling panicked and scared at your current dentist’s clinic is not natural.

Before, during, and after each visit, a good dentist will take the time to explain each treatment to you. He or she will also provide solutions to ease pain, anxiety, and discomfort.

Dentistry has grown significantly in recent years. So if you’ve been avoiding your dentist due to terrible experiences, now is the time to seek treatment using new technology and choices.

Tip #2 – Communicate with Your Dental Team

From the staff to the dentist, every person in the dental clinic should dedicate their time to making your dental experience as pleasant as possible. The dental assistant will most likely welcome you and lead you into the clinic, where you will sit and prepare your upcoming appointment.

You’ll see the hygienist for cleanings and other treatments as well. Then, the dentist will execute the exams and essential treatments to improve your overall oral health. If you have been anxious about going to the dentist, please speak with your dentist and let your dental staff know how you feel.

They’ll be able to help you avoid triggers or work through your worries so that your appointment is as pleasant as possible. They have dealt with dental-phobic patients in their past. You should never feel embarrassed to tell your dental team you are anxious or panicked. It is the only way to address your fear.

Tip #3 – Bring Along Your A Family Member or A Friend

Bring a friend or family member who can make you feel safe during stressful situations. It could be a partner, a mate, a parent, or even an infant. When you’re feeling nervous or panicked, this person is there to help.

If the procedure requires it, having the person in the room with your work could be beneficial. Even if the dentist rarely permits accompaniment in the area, knowing that someone will wait for them after the procedure can comfort anxious patients.

Tip #4 – Try to Use Distractions During Your Appointment

Many dental clinics have televisions where you can watch while getting your teeth cleaned. If you don’t have access to a larger screen, use your smartphone or tablet to relax while in the dental chair by watching shows, movies, or videos.

Try listening to your favorite podcast, audiobook, or your preferred music if you’re in an awkward place to watch TV or movies. Diverting anxious thoughts and emotions can help people with anxiety take their minds off the situation.

Tip #5 – Try Relaxation Techniques

When you’re nervous, deep breathing and meditation before your appointment will help a lot. Take five minutes to sit and meditate. You can practice deep breathing if you’re feeling worked up before leaving the house. Deep breathing reduces your heart rate and blood pressure naturally, which can help you stop or recover from a panic attack.

Visualization strategies, such as closing your eyes and imagining yourself in a relaxed and calming atmosphere, can also be effective. Before and during your dental visit, you can practice visualization techniques.

Tip #6 – Choose Your Most Convenient Time

It’s not a good idea to schedule dental appointments during busy or stressful periods if you’re naturally afraid of the dentist. Trying to cram a procedure or a dental cleaning into your lunch hour can cause you excessive anxiety and stress.

Give yourself a lot of time to prepare your body and mind for your next dental visit. Schedule it on a day when you won’t get distracted by other obligations. So, there’s no reason for you to back out.

Tip #7 – Avoid Overthinking About Your Dental Visit

Many nervous adults have done too much homework on procedures and dwelling on the “what ifs” for much too long. Over-researching and worrying about the situation will not help. While it’s always a good idea to educate yourself and know what to expect, it’s probably best to avoid learning the fine details of a procedure.

Avoid doing lots of research the night before if you have anxiety issues. Spend the time leading up to an appointment doing something that would distract you from your worries. You watch a movie with friends or go to the gym.


Your role as a patient is to be honest about anxiety and employ coping mechanisms that are comfortable for you. It’s all about setting up the right mindset that makes the difference. If you are looking for a professional and friendly dentist in Menlo Park, talk to our team now. We’ve handled a lot of patients with dental fear and anxiety, so we understand you.

Our dental team at Marisa Walker, DDS, support each patient because they know how critical dental care is to overall health. It is our mission to give you personalized dental care in Menlo Park.

Marisa Walker, DDS

150 Middlefield Rd #101, Menlo Park, CA 94025


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