Top 5 Dental Phobias & Ways to Overcome Them
Why your dentist isn’t out to get you
Would you rather walk over a bed of hot coals than sit down in a dentist’s chair? You’re not alone. While many people have general anxiety about dental visits, it’s estimated that up to 25% of Americans are considered “dental phobic,” an extreme type of dental fear.
If you are “dental phobic,” the trick is not to become so paralyzed with anxiety that it keeps you from seeking dental treatment when you need it.
Top 5 dental phobias
There are many reasons for dental anxiety, but these are the most common fears about visiting the dentist’s office:
- Pain: Early childhood dental trauma usually powers this top fear of seeing a dentist.
- Needles: It’s tough to see that sharp, pointy object zeroing in on your gums or cheek.
- Dentists: That masked person hovering over you can be terrifying, especially if you know your teeth really need work.
- Drills: The familiar buzz and whir can trigger instant anxiety in phobic patients.
- Choking: Your mouth is wide open. Instruments are flying in and out of it. And it feels like you don’t have control over your gag reflex.
What causes dental phobias?
Gossip about an insensitive dentist or family horror stories can fuel dental fear. The key is to realize everyone’s experiences are different and you shouldn’t let someone else’s dental fears dictate how you handle your oral health.
Ways to overcome dental fear
- Shop for a good dentist: This is your oral health we’re talking about. Take your time and shop around. Visit potential dentists and talk to them. Get a feel for their personalities. Do they make you feel comfortable? Is the office atmosphere inviting?
- Ask for a sedative: Sometimes sedation is the only way to calm nerves. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed to ask for it. Your dentist can prescribe a sedative (like Valium or Ativan) to take prior to coming into the office so you’re relaxed.
- Distract yourself while waiting: Just sitting in the waiting room can heighten anxiety. Bring a good book or your listen to music through headphones while you’re waiting, to calm nerves.
See a counselor: If you have an extreme case of dental fear you may need to seek professional help. This doesn’t mean you’re crazy! Sometimes, a professional can help you get to the bottom of your fears and offer solutions to conquer them.
The #1 way to beat your fear of the dentist
Practice good oral health habits! Brush every day at least two times a day and floss daily. Hey, if you don’t have tooth decay, your dentist won’t have to do too much when you visit. Makes sense, right?
WATCH: Learn more about dental fear and how to beat it in our quick video
Want to learn more about taking care of your mouth?