Many adults deal with dental anxiety at some point. Whether you experience minor anxiety or crippling fear before heading to the dentist – it is certainly no fun. Anxiety keeps many patients from seeing the dentist altogether, putting their health at risk. Anxiety management tips can help you overcome your fear and face the dental chair once again.

Causes of Dental Anxiety

The causes of dental anxiety range from person-to-person. If you recognize yourself in any of the following signs, you may indeed suffer from some level of dental anxiety:

  • Fear of pain: Dental patients often fear the pain they assume will come about during a dental procedure. Some patients also worry the anesthesia won’t work on them or fear the insertion of the needle used to administer anesthesia.
  • Worry over anesthetic side effects: Some people also face concerns that problems could come about due to the use of anesthesia.
  • Fear of losing control: Another reason many people fear a visit to the dentist is the perceived loss of control that goes along with a dental exam, cleaning, or procedure.

How Patients Can Overcome Dental Anxiety

Fortunately, there are several ways to swiftly begin reducing dental anxiety, starting with finding a dentist who understands dental anxiety and will work to make you comfortable throughout any visit. Ask your dentist to explain what is going on before and throughout any dental procedure if that helps calm your nerves.

Before a dental procedure begins, you can also come up with a signal – such as lifting the left hand — to be used to let the dentist know when you are feeling pain or want the dental procedure to stop. This will give you a sense of control and help ease your anxiety level.

Acquire a kind dentist with a caring staff. Patients should feel comfortable with the staff and the dentist when they go for a cleaning or other dental procedure. Also request the same hygienist each visit when getting a cleaning. This is especially helpful when anxiety stems from insecurity about being close to someone unfamiliar. Seeing the same staff members also helps you build a rapport, so you won’t have to explain your anxiety triggers all over again on each visit.

Dental anxiety can lead to debilitating fear. However, it should never prevent anyone from making regular trips to the dentist, because the negative effects of avoiding the dentist far outweigh the discomfort that is felt during the process. Work with your dentist to develop anxiety management tips so you never have to skip another appointment.


Keating-Biltucci, Mary Therese, RDH, MA. “Fear and Anxiety in the Dental Environment.” Registered Dental Hygienist. RDH Magazine, n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2014.

McMullen, Laura. “Stop the Excuses! Go to the Dentist.” US News. U.S.News & World Report, n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2014.

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Dental Anxiety Can Lead to More Cavities

Avoiding the dentist due to anxiety can lead to more dental and health problems in the long run. Managing your anxiety and visiting your dentist often may prevent the need for extraction and more.

  • Regular dental appointments catch diseases in their early stages. Tooth decay and gum disease are slowly developing problems, better caught early through regular care.
  • Prevention is the key to dental success. Many dental issues can be avoided all together if patients see their dentist on a routine basis. Regular dental cleanings and examinations often prevent the need for serious procedures like root canals.

Call your dentist today to schedule an appointment, and don’t let fear keep you from great dental health.