I’m scared of the dentist. What can I do?
Learn to overcome dental anxiety and find your perfect smile
Dental fear is a heck of a thing. It’s far more common than most would think. Speaking purely from experience, we reckon one in three patients gets anxious about hopping in the dental chair; one in six have an extreme fear of the dentist preventing them from coming into the clinic at all.
At The Point Dental, we don’t believe the best way to overcome a dental phobia is to push through it. That’s simply not how fear and anxiety work; some of our clients can’t overcome or manage their fears. You might just be such a patient — and that’s alright. Our experts know how to alleviate stress, cool anxieties, and help each of our patients get the dental treatment they need.
In this article, we’ll explain how to identify the symptoms of dental fear, talk about what people are actually afraid of, and finally offer solutions that we know will work. Hopefully, you’ll soon learn why you shouldn’t be scared of the dentist — especially ones as charming and good-looking as us!
If you’ve got an intense anxiety disorder that’s stopping you from going to the dentist, you might like to learn more about sleep dentistry. Give us a call for a chat about how we can help you with stress- and pain-free dental care.
The symptoms of dental anxiety
We’ve cared for countless anxious patients and seen the full spectrum of stress symptoms.
Some develop anxieties for days before their appointment. Insomnia is not uncommon; neither is crying, especially for younger patients. The more acute symptoms of anxiety and panic tend to kick in once our patients actually enter our dental practice.
You may develop chills and shakes, or start to feel lightheaded and nauseous. Your heart may start to race, and you may become sweaty and clammy.
None of this is abnormal. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before. But what’s the root cause of it?
Why are people so afraid of dental visits?
As anyone who’s ever been to therapy will attest, there’s no easy answer to why we are the way we are.
If you have a phobia of some kind, whether it’s a phobia of the dentist generally or specifically of needles, being touched, or teeth, then uncovering the root cause of your fear is beyond our expertise. Phobias are, by definition, irrational and extreme.
If you have a more rational anxiety grounded in experience or sensation, it may be easier to understand what we can do to help. Here are the three most common fears we’ve noticed in our patients.
The fear of dental pain
This is the obvious fear. Every dental procedure involves drills, prods, and other metal doodahs that buzz, click, and pinch. We use such tools in simple regular check-ups. But still — who wouldn’t be afraid of that? And then, if the dentist has to remove a tooth? Nightmares of forceps twisting and yanking… No, thank you.
This anxiety stems from a fear of the unknown for first-time patients (and even those who simply haven’t been in for a while). It’s not just the tools you’re afraid of — it’s what they’ll feel like when they touch your teeth.
And you know what? It’s never as bad as you think it’s going to be. But we’ll talk about our solutions in a moment.
The fear of judgement
Embarrassment is the most common reason people are scared of the dentist. The fear here is that the second you open up your gums, we’ll be horrified by the sights and smells, scold you for not flossing correctly, or (just as bad) we’ll silently judge you. The fear of being judged is a fear that affects absolutely everyone.
But think of it from our perspective. We didn’t get into this line of work to look at flawless, sparkling diamonds all day, did we? We’re here to help. Whether you’ve got a complete set of slightly yellow teeth or a handful of diseased ones, it doesn’t matter — we’re here to give you the care you need to resolve your poor oral health.
Remember this: At The Point Dental, shame is simply not part of the equation.
Negative experiences at past dental treatments
This is the fear that we dread the most. Patients who’ve had bad dental visits at other clinics tend to (fairly) pass on that anxiety to their future dentists. If you’ve ever had a bad experience, chances are that it was more than just a matter of pain or price — it was a matter of trust.
If you’ve developed a deep anxiety because of a past dental experience, we’d hazard a guess it was because your dentist had asked you for your trust, and then broken it. They misdiagnosed you, offered the wrong procedures, mucked up the right procedures… We’ve even had patients who were in the process of overcoming anxieties brought on by medical abuse.
Whatever your history, we believe we can earn back your trust. Sometimes, good dental treatment means an extended consultation process to explain every step of your treatment in detail.
How we can help you to stop being scared of the dentist
We’ve done everything we can to create as safe and calming a dental setting as possible. That includes training ourselves on several anxiety-reducing techniques and procedures.
Fear management doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution. We offer multiple treatments, and we’ll work with you to create an overall dental treatment plant that you feel confident in.
Here are just a few of the fear-reduction methods we offer at The Point Dental.
We keep you in control
Many fears ultimately boil down to the fear of the unknown. You’ll naturally become anxious if you’re in an unfamiliar setting, where an unknown individual will dig around in your mouth with strange tools to perform who-knows-what procedures for an unclear outcome.
We won’t let that happen at our clinic. Before you hop in the seat, we’ll have had an in-depth consultation where we can get to know each other, discuss your oral issues and the procedures needed to correct them, and go over all of your anxieties, too.
While the emotional aspect of your fear or phobia may not be entirely in your control, we’ll make sure you understand everything about the process that you can control.
There are several relaxation techniques we can help you with to manage your fear.
Techniques like deep breathing, meditation and stretching are quite effective. However, not all of our patients have experience with these techniques. But you know what else works just as well? TV and music.
Depending on your procedure, we’re quite happy for you to plug in a show or your favourite tunes. You’ll be able to keep yourself calm and distracted while we work.
We have other methods of treating dental fear without medication, but sometimes sedation is the best option.
Drifting off with sweet sedation
If you’re worried that your fear of the dentist is simply too great to overcome, then perhaps sedation is the best way to go. We offer specialised sleep dentistry, in which a qualified anaesthetist will lull you to sleep with gas or IV sedation. Once unconscious, we can complete your treatment without causing you any pain or discomfort.
How to stop being scared of the dentist? Start with a call.
What we’ve discussed here is just the tip of the iceberg. Every patient has their own unique fears, but we’re confident that we can help you overcome yours so that you can get the care you need.
Why don’t we set up a consultation? Tell us what you’re worried about, and trust that the experts at The Point Dental have what it takes to help.