Scared of the dentist? Here’s how to ease your dental fears


Do you suffer from a fear of going to the dentist? You’re not alone, as one study reports that almost 60% of people state they have dental anxiety, and roughly 5% to 10% suffer from dental phobia. If you have concerns about going to the dentist or know someone who does, here is how you can ease any fears.

Why Do People Fear the Dentist?

It’s not just patients who suffer from dental anxiety, as a 2012 study found that about 28% of dental students also have dental anxiety. As many people have some form of anxiety related to going to the dentist, these fears can manifest into frightening, terrifying, and even paralyzing experiences. Dentists don’t want their patients to fear them, but rather visit them regularly. There are ways to reduce anxiety such as therapy or sedation dentistry, but knowing the reasons behind the fears can help benefit dentists.

Some of the more common reasons people fear the dentist include:

  • Bad Dental Experience

  • Indirect experiences from family or friends

  • Anxiety Disorder

  • Lack of Control

  • Bad Teeth

  • Biological

The Difference between Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia

Dental anxiety occurs when there is an unnecessary fear of going to the dentist or having dental work done. Sometimes these feelings can last for months and may leave people feeling tired and irritable. Although many people use anxiety synonymously with the term phobia, in the case of dental fears, they mean two separate issues. Dental phobia is the far end of a continuum of dental anxiety. Dental phobias are more severe than anxieties, as they leave people feeling terrified or panic-stricken. One or multiple factors cause both of these dental fears.

Dental Fears include:

  • Fear of Pain

  • Fear of Injections

  • Fear of Anesthesia

  • Fear from Loss of Control

  • Fear from Loss of Personal Space

While one or all of these may lead to dental anxiety and dental phobia, it's essential to know what is causing your fear of the dentist. Beyond dental worries, some symptoms can help identify if you may be suffering from dental anxiety or dental phobia.

Symptoms of Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia include:

  • Trouble sleeping through the night before a dental exam.

  • Nervous feelings while sitting in the waiting room of a dental office.

  • Increase in anxiety at the sight of dental instruments or dental office personnel.

  • Feeling like crying when you have to go to the dentist.

  • The thought of going to the dentist makes you physically ill.

  • You have a panic attack when thinking of going to the dentist or when you’re at the dentist.

9 Tips for Easing Your Fears

Managing your symptoms can be done through a series of steps. We discuss eight different ways you can ease your fear of going to the dentist.

  1. OperaVR: We're proud to offer patients a new, drug free solution that helps relieve dental pain and anxiety! OperaVR, a small headset that patients wear during their appointment, harnesses the power of virtual reality to both immerse patients in calming environments and relieve them of their discomfort.

  2. Meet your Dentist Beforehand: You can set up a consultation appointment with your dentist to meet them and talk through whatever you’re feeling.

  3. Share Your Feelings: It’s okay to speak with your dentist about your fears. When you express concerns, it allows your dentist to adapt their treatment to meet your needs.

  4. Ask Questions: Ask away! The dental team will be able to answer any questions you may have about treatment plans. You can also have them discuss procedures and what you’ll expect throughout the process.

  5. Create a Signal: Communicate with your dentist about using a hand signal to notify them that it’s too much and you need a small break.

  6. Bring a Friend or Family Member: Ask one of your family members or close friends to accompany you to the dentist. Make sure to discuss this with your dentist beforehand.

  7. Listen to Music: Pop in your favorite earbuds and listen to the music you like, this reduces stress, and you won’t have to hear the sound of the drill.

  8. Close Your Eyes: Close your eyes during your appointment to relax.

  9. Meditate: Focus on your breathing, sometimes people will hold their breath, and then anxiety can creep up, when you breathe slowly you’ll decrease the stress and panic. Beyond breathing techniques, recite a movie in your head, silently count the alphabet forward and backward, silently count to 100. You can practice all sorts of meditation techniques to help you zone-out during your appointment.

Conquering Your Dental Fears with Rasmussen Dental

Here at Rasmussen Dental, we’re eager to help you overcome your fears. As we offer some of the newest dental technology and products, we love providing our patients with the best of the best. Get to know our amazing dental team before stopping by for your appointment.

If you’re ready to conquer your dental fears, scheduling a consultation or appointment today!