How Can I Get Over My Fear of Going to the Dentist?

Dental anxiety doesn't have to keep you away from the dentist

You can overcome your dental anxiety.

Going to the dentist twice a year is just one of those things we need to do as adults. Taking care of our teeth and oral health is essential to our overall health. Unfortunately, for some adults, the idea of going to the dentist creates anxiety. 

Dental anxiety is more common than you might realize, as an estimated 60% of adults avoid going to the dentist due to their dentophobia. If you are one of those adults who suffer from dental anxiety, this article can help you overcome that fear.

What causes dental anxiety?

Perhaps one of the best ways to start overcoming your fear of going to the dentist is to understand what causes dental anxiety in the first place. For most people, dental anxiety is brought on for one or more of the following reasons:

  • A traumatic experience with another dentist or healthcare provider 
  • Trauma to the head and neck from a past incident 
  • Traumatic experiences, such as abuse 
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder 
  • Discomfort with the concept of someone else accessing the mouth
  • Fear of loss of control
  • Issues with trust 
  • Agoraphobia, claustrophobia, or obsessive-compulsive disorder where there is an extreme obsession for cleanliness

Tips to Get Over Your Dental Anxiety 

If you can trace back your reason for fearing the dentist, it will be easier to determine the right steps to get you on track for a successful dental visit.

1. Face your fear of the dentist head on.

Though this might sound easier said than done, it can really help. Coming to terms with whatever your fear is, even by speaking it aloud, can help you rationalize and separate that incident from your upcoming dental appointment. For example, a bad experience with a previous dentist is far from an indicator that you will have the same bad experience again. And, with modern technology and gag-free dental impressions designed to make you more comfortable, dental appointments aren’t what they used to be.

2. Educate yourself on what to expect at your dental appointment. 

Take some time to read up on what to expect at a routine dental appointment. Most of these visits consist of an oral examination and a dental cleaning. During the oral examination, your dentist will check the general health of your mouth. This often entails an oral cancer check along with an inspection of your gums. Your dentist will also measure your periodontal pockets. These pockets are the spaces between the top of your gumline and where your soft tissues keep your teeth in place. 

During the dental cleaning, the dental assistant will use a scaler to gently remove plaque and tartar buildup. Your teeth will also be flossed to remove food particles that may be stuck between your teeth and gums. Finally, you may receive a fluoride treatment to further protect your smile.

3. Ask for referrals or read patient testimonials.

Take some time to read Facebook reviews or website testimonials from other patients who have been to your dentist before. Look for keywords about the patient experience, such as “comfort,” “kindness,” and “caring.” If your dentist doesn’t display reviews on the website, simply ask for a few referrals. Most dentists are more than happy to make connections between patients, especially if it can help ease your dental anxiety. And more so, the team at The Tooth Doc has built a referral-based reputation as the Omaha practice for those with dental anxiety

4. Practice some relaxation techniques before your appointment.

We always recommend that our patients with dental anxiety try to avoid overscheduling themselves on the day of their appointment. Having an easygoing day with less pressures can help you relax both before and during the appointment. Also be sure to find a deep-breathing or meditation exercise that you can do while you are in the dental chair. One recommendation is to count your breaths while doing a deep-breathing exercise. Inhale slowly for four or five counts, then exhale for the same number of counts. Repeat this process five times while you’re in the waiting room or periodically while you are sitting in the dental chair.

5. Let the clinic know of your dental anxiety when you schedule your appointment.

The more we know about your dental anxiety, the more we can do to make your appointment as comfortable as possible. Though all of our dental assistants are trained to work with patients with dentophobia, if you have a certain assistant you are more comfortable with, be sure to ask for them when you request your appointment. We’ll do everything we can to make your appointment with a dental assistant who can help you overcome any dental fears you have.

6. Ask us about sedation dentistry. 

Sedation dentistry has grown in popularity over the years, especially for children and adults who have a fear of going to the dentist. The sedation dentistry options at The Tooth Doc can provide peace of mind to anyone who suffers from dental anxiety or needs additional anesthetic options. Both oral (pill) sedation as well as nitrous oxide options are available.

The Tooth Doc is the right dentist for you if you have dental anxiety.

If you experience dental anxiety when it comes time for your dentist appointment, it’s time to make a change and try The Tooth Doc. We’ll help you take steps to mitigate your dental anxiety through our approach to comfort dentistry. Whether we help you with relaxation techniques, dental sedation, or both, we’re confident your next appointment will be better than what you may have experienced in the past. So, don’t delay or jeopardize your oral health. Request an appointment with The Tooth Doc today.