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Dentophobia: Overcoming Dental Anxiety

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A young woman sitting in a dental chair and pointing to something displayed on a tablet as her dentist holds the tablet and smiles.

Your oral health is essential, and dental visits like exams, cleanings, and other services are necessary for keeping your smile healthy. However, a trip to the dentist can be an overwhelming experience for many patients. 

If going to the dentist fills you with dread and fear, you’re not alone—you may have dentophobia. However, you don’t need to avoid the dentist forever. There’s no way to completely overcome dentophobia, there are some things you can do to help ease your anxiety during your visit.

What Is Dentophobia? 

While some people may not like visiting the dentist, others can feel almost petrified—so much so that they avoid the dental visits necessary for protecting their oral health. 

Someone with dentophobia feels so fearful of the dentist they avoid going. Some people might not even know why they feel scared, while others may know exactly what makes them nervous. Dentophobia usually occurs due to poor experiences in the past, like in childhood. 

Types of Dentophobia

Dentophobia is common, and many people assume it’s a general fear of going to the dentist. However, dental anxiety can happen for many reasons—someone may be OK with drills but scared of needles.

Types of dental anxiety include: 

  • Needles: Fear of needles is common for many patients, and the thought of needing injections can cause someone to skip a visit to the dentist. 
  • Gagging or choking: Having your mouth held open for fillings or other dental work can cause stress. Some people worry about choking or gagging during these procedures. 
  • Pain: Unfortunately, some patients have experienced discomfort at the dentist. Someone may have a painful tooth and worry about this pain worsening when treated by the dentist. 
  • Sound and smell: Drills and teeth cleaning products can make interesting sounds and smells that patients may find uncomfortable or scary. 
  • Your dentist: Dentists can be intimidating due to their scrubs. Some people feel dentists can be cold or uncaring or have had a previous bad experience with their dentist. 

How Can You Overcome Dentophobia? 

Tips for Staying Calm During a Dental Appointment

Regular dental exams and cleanings are essential for your overall health. 

Here are some tips to help you stay comfortable during your appointment

  • Practice deep breathing or meditate to help lower your stress levels.
  • Wear noise-cancelling headphones or listen to music.
  • Visit the dentist earlier when they have fewer patients in the office.
  • Ask for a break if you need one—arrange a signal to your dentist so they know if you need to stop, like raising your hand.

While these tips can help, your dentist is one of the most important factors in overcoming dental anxiety. The right dentist can help you feel comfortable and know that, while your concerns are valid, you have nothing to worry about. 

Solea Laser: Drill & Needle-Free Dentistry

The sound of a dental drill is a common trigger of dental anxiety. Dental Lasers, like the Solea laser, are quieter than traditional drills and can be used without anesthesia, which means a needle-free procedure. 

The Solea laser works on hard and soft tissue like gums and teeth and can be used for fillings, gum tissue removal, and crown lengthening. 

If you dislike the sound of drills and the feeling of freezing, you may want to opt for the Solea laser. Your appointment may be quick and more comfortable, making a dental visit feel less like a burden. 

Find a Dentist Compatible with You

Some dentists focus on providing care to patients with dental anxiety. To help make your appointment more positive, look for a dentist with experience providing care to those with dentophobia. 

A woman seated in a dental chair and smiling while she wears a dental bib as her dentist stands behind her and examines a clipboard.

Don’t Let Fear Affect Your Oral Health

Dental anxiety is common for many patients, but it doesn’t need to make someone avoid the dentist. Newer technology like the Solea laser and the support of your dentist can help you feel comfortable during your entire appointment. Book your next dental appointment at False Creek Dental.

Written by Dr. Lisa Reino

Dr. Lisa Reino, a native of Dunbar, Vancouver, is a highly accomplished dentist with a passion for transforming smiles and empowering lives. With a strong educational background, she obtained her B.Sc. in Psychology from UBC, followed by her DMD in 1993. Driven by a commitment to excellence, Dr. Reino further honed her skills through a one-year residency in hospital dentistry. She also pursued specialized training in smoking cessation and oral cancer screening, ensuring comprehensive care for her patients.

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