It is important to remember that your oral health contributes directly to your overall health. Regular visits to the dentist are vital to your health—even if you are terrified of the dentist! We completely understand dental fears and phobias, and our specialized team is trained to help you feel at ease. Fearful emotions about visiting the dentist is common; it can stem from concerns about your oral health or from negative experiences you had at the dentist when you were younger.

However, for some, this fear can manifest as dentophobia or odontophobia. Like other phobias, it can be an extreme or irrational fear of any object, situation, or person. In this case, it is the perceived fear of going to the dentist.

Given how critical oral care is for your overall health, this fear of the dentist should not hold you back from going to your regular checkups and cleanings. Pain, fear of the unknown, bad experiences in your past and embarrassment about the condition of your teeth are all factors that can lead to a dental phobia. In this article, we will discuss the underlying causes, treatments and coping methods to help you get over your fear of the dentist.

If you are afraid of going to the dentist, you are not alone—this is a common fear that prevents many patients from attending their dental appointments. Neglecting your dental care and not maintaining healthy teeth and gums may lead to adverse outcomes including gum disease, cavities and tooth loss.

Dental Fear Vs Dental Phobia

Fears and phobias are usually discussed in the same breath; however, these two states of mind can have some differences. Fear is a strong dislike that can cause avoidance, but it is not necessarily something you think about until the fear presents itself.

On the other hand, a phobia is a much more potent form of fear. Phobias are considered a type of anxiety disorder and cause extreme distress and avoidance so much that they interfere with your daily life.

One more characteristic of a phobia is that they are caused by things that will not necessarily cause you harm, yet you feel that they will.

Many individuals end up putting off their dental appointments until it becomes a necessity. You could dislike the feeling and the sounds of the instruments that dentists use during your appointments for cleaning and other procedures, but you might be able to put up with them.

For those with dentophobia, on the other hand, this can cause such an intensely fearful state that you avoid going to the dentist altogether. Even the mere thought or mention of the dentist can cause anxiety while experiencing nightmares, and some individuals even experience panic attacks.

Causes and treatments for fear of the dentist can be similar. However, having a legitimate phobia of the dentist can take longer to work and cope with.

  1. Exposure Therapy

    Exposure therapy is a type of psychotherapy and is one of the most effective solutions to help with dentophobia. It will involve going to the dentist on a gradual basis. You can start by visiting the dental office without sitting in the chair for a full cleaning. We offer free consultations for many of our dental services that allow you to meet the team and experience the difference at our office. Then, gradually build up your visits with partial exams, x-rays and cleanings until you are more comfortable making a full appointment.

  2. Find a good dentist

    This will make a world of difference as the right dentist will prioritize your comfort so you will feel safe. A friendly and caring staff is a must, as is a relaxing environment, so do some research and ask your family and friends for recommendations.

  3. Consider relaxation techniques

    Getting into the right mindset before your appointment will put your mind at ease so try doing stretches, meditation and breathing exercises, as many people find these very helpful. If you suffer from severe anxiety, you can ask about sedation techniques that the dentist may offer as sedative medications or laughing gas can help you get through your appointment. Your dentist will discuss these options and consider your needs to determine whether these medications are suitable.

  4. Bring a friend or family member with you to your appointment

    Asking a friend or family member to come along is an excellent idea as their presence can provide you with comfort. Having the support of someone you love and trust will make you feel safer and more relaxed.

  5. Do not rush to your appointment

    Arriving early will ensure you start on the right foot and have a positive experience. Rushing will lead to more stress and will cause you to get worked up, so plan and arrive early, as this will allow you to proceed at your own pace. You can spend some time in the lobby, talk to the front desk staff, or sit back and relax.

  6. Communicate with your dentist

    Dentists have the experience to help people suffering from this phobia, so do not be afraid to speak up during your appointment. Share your fears and concerns and let your dentist know that you feel nervous so that they provide you with the proper care and attention. It would help if you also asked questions because having the correct information will also put your mind at ease.

Changing the Way You Look at Dentistry

At Clearwater Family Dental, we pride ourselves on centering our dental care around your comfort and positive experience as our patient. Our core values are Trust, Excellence, Accountability, Collaboration, Service, Innovation, and Gratitude.  

Our friendly staff provide judgement free dental care with clear pricing and prioritize the comfort and safety of each patient. Dentistry is about YOU, the patient—and we are here to help! Book a free consultation today if you are ready to take the next step in prioritizing your dental health by visiting or calling our customer care line at +1 (519) 332-3000.