Dental phobia: How can I overcome my Dentophobia?

Update in January 11, 2024

Dental phobia

Dental anxiety ranges from mild uneasiness (experienced by many of us), to acute anxiety/panic attacks. When a person will not visit the dentist despite needing treatment, they can be said to be suffering from dental phobia.

The particular fears of visiting the dentist vary from person to person. Some people have their fear triggered by the sound of the drill, or the thought of needles in sensitive areas of their mouth. For some it is the loss of control which is most feared, for others it is the fear of pain. Generally, but not always, dental phobias generally develop from childhood, where a traumatic experience may have left us with feelings of anxiety about going to the dentist.

Causes of Dental phobia

There are many terms used to classify the idea of a dental phobia. It can be known as dental fear, dental anxiety, dentist phobia, odontophobia, or dentophobia. They all mean the same thing: an intense fear of visiting the dentist for dental care. In most cases, people who experience dentophobia do so because of prior traumatic experiences at the dentist.

  • Those experiences can include complications from procedures and painful procedures. The fear can also arise from a bad interaction with a dentist and the way in which the dentist’s attitude was perceived. If an individual received care from a dentist that was uncaring or cold in manner, the experience could result in an increased fear.
  • Negative personal experiences aren’t the only ways in which a dentophobia could arise. In some cases, the fear can be brought about by indirect experiences. One way in which someone could obtain a fear of the dentist is through hearing about someone else’s bad traumatic experience. People are also greatly impacted by what they see and hear in the mass media. Witnessing a negative portrayal of dentistry can also have a negative effect on dentophobia.
  • Dentophobia can also occur if the person has traumatic experiences with doctors in general. Some people can have their fear triggered just by seeing a doctor of any kind, smelling smells associated with hospitals, or have a fear of people perceived to be in a position of power.


The signs of dental fear, or phobia, include:

  • Tension or difficulty sleeping the night before a visit to your family dentistry expert
  • Mounting nervousness and anxiety while in the waiting room of the dentist’s office
  • Seeing dental instruments or dentistry personnel makes you anxious
  • Feeling physically ill at the thought of an appointment for professional dental care
  • Panic or difficulty breathing during your dental care exam

How to overcome dental phobia

How to overcome dental phobia

Despite the large number of people with oral health issues, many choose to avoid the dentist because of a common problem known as dental phobia. For those of you dealing with dental phobia, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. There are several kinds of dental-related fears, for which there are different ways to deal with the problem.

  • Fear of the dentist– A lot of people are afraid to get dental treatments because they fear the actual dentist. This may be because of a bad experience in the past or because they feel that dentists don’t mind causing pain. Getting over this type of fear is as easy as familiarizing yourself with the dentist. Before you go to a dentist for treatment, get acquainted with him or her and explain your problem. A good dentist should be able to gain your trust and help you realize that he or she only wants to help you.
  • Fear of pain– Some people might have undergone a painful dental experience in the past, resulting in their fear of the pain. It’s true that some dental procedures may be painful, but you also have a number of options to reduce the discomfort. There are several products, such as numbing gels and anesthetics, which could be of help.
  • Fear of the drill– Many people are afraid of the dental drill or even other dental tools. For some people, even just the sound of the drill could result in a serious anxiety spell. The best way you can deal with this issue is through distraction and exposure. Discuss your fear with the dentist and request them to help you get familiar with the drill or any other dental tool. You could try holding the equipment while it’s running so that you can see how there’s nothing to fear about. In addition to this, bring your iPod or phone along so you can drown out the drilling sound using music.

Overcome Fear of the Dental Needle

Overcome Fear of the Dental Needle

The number one part of a dental appointment that results in dental phobia is fear of the dental needle. Firstly, it’s important to note that this isn’t just a dental phobia. Needle phobia is part of a group of specific phobias of blood-injection-injury. People who have needle phobia experience a loss of blood pressure and fainting response.

You should inquire about the following options for dental injections.

Topical anesthesia

Also known as “numbing gel,” it is a cream or gel used to numb your gums before your dental injection so that you can’t feel the needle glide in. The term topical anesthetic means an anesthetic agent that is simply applied externally to the outside (like skin and gums). If you fear the dental needle ask your dentist to leave the topical anesthetic on for longer.

Painless injections

While you may be afraid of the needle, it’s important to remember that a dental needle is very small in diameter. A recent innovation in dental surgeries is painless injections. Generally, these refer to using a local anesthetic device called the wand.

The dental wand uses a small handpiece that looks like a pen. It is designed to give a supply of anesthetic in a slow, comfortable manner. The delivery works at a low pressure and a slow rate that gives an improved anesthesia.

Does it work? Most people report a lower amount of pain associated with dental injections using the wand. You can inquire whether a dentist uses the wand before booking your appointment.

Relative anesthetic

Relative anesthetic

Happy gas is a term for nitrous oxide used as an anesthetic gas. However, using the small quantities employed with happy gas the patient does not become unconscious but merely sedated.

Nitrous oxide mixed with pure oxygen and air is used to produce relaxation and even a feeling of floating for the patient. It is applied in the dental surgery using a nasal inhaler, which is gently placed over the patient’s nose.

The system is very comfortable and can be adjusted by the patient if they desire. The dental practitioner allows the patient to breathe the nitrous oxide mixture for two to three minutes. Once a feeling of a general relaxation is experienced, the dental treatment can then commence.

Happy gas isn’t a replacement for local anesthetic injections. However, they quite often allow them to be applied together and the patient feels no discomfort. Once local anesthetic is used, the entire dental procedure is completely pain-free.

IV sedation

IV sedation (intravenous sedation) is when a drug, usually of the anti-anxiety or sedative variety, is administered into the blood system during dental treatment. IV sedation induces a state of deep relaxation and a feeling of not being bothered by what’s going on. The drugs used for IV sedation produce either partial or full memory loss (amnesia) for the period of time when the drug first kicks in until it wears off.

As a result, time will appear to pass very quickly and you will not recall much of what happened. Many people remember nothing at all. So it may, indeed, appear as if you were “asleep” during the procedure.

Generally, patients report remembering nothing about what happened. It can be referred to as “twilight aleep.” The advantages of IV sedation for dental phobias is that patients often feel absolutely fine during treatment. For IV sedation, you will need someone to accompany you and bring you home afterward.

General anesthetic

General anesthetic

General anaesthesia (GA) refers to being “put to sleep.” During GA, you are unconscious. It is performed in a hospital setting with an anesthetist.

Apart from the risk of serious complications (which are very small, but still much higher than for conscious IV sedation), general anesthesia has a few major disadvantages:

  • It’s known that GA depresses the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. For some groups of medically compromised patients, it’s unsuitable for elective dental procedures.
  • Much higher cost than general dental treatment.6

It’s not recommended for routine dental work like fillings. The potential risk involved is considered too high to warrant the use of GA. For general dental treatment, a breathing tube must be inserted, because otherwise, little bits of tooth, other debris, or saliva could enter the airway and produce airway obstruction or cause illnesses like pneumonia.

Laser Dentistry

The fear of the sound of a dental drill can be a major factor in dental phobia. Drill-less dentistry sounds like a breeze, right?

Dental lasers work by delivering high energy light. More recently, lasers have been applied for surgical and dental procedures. They’re useful as a cutting instrument for hard or soft tissues in the mouth.

There are a number of uses for dental lasers:

  • Replacing the dental drill to treat tooth decay. Lasers can be used to remove decay within a tooth and prepare the surrounding enamel for receipt of the filling.
  • Periodontal treatmentis the specialized treatment of gum disease. Many people avoid addressing their gum disease because of the relative discomfort of mechanical removal of plaque or calculus from beneath the gums. Periodontal conditions are caused by chronic inflammation so the longer they are left, the more difficult they are to treat.
  • Root canal treatmentis definitely not the most favorite dental procedure. The use of metal files to clean canals can be a source of dental phobia. Dental lasers can be used to reshape gums and remove bacteria during root canal procedures.
  • Teeth whitening.Lasers are used to speed up in-office teeth whitening A peroxide bleaching solution, applied to the tooth surface, is ”activated” by laser energy, which speeds up the whitening process.

Dental phobia in children

Dental phobia in children

Dental phobia is often formed by a negative experience during childhood years. Children especially can experience intense dental anxiety due to the perception and unfamiliarity of a dental office and relative discomfort experienced in the mouth. In certain situations, and to prevent long-term dental anxiety or phobia, it’s best that some children be seen by a specialist in kids’ dentistry.

Pediatric dentists are registered as specialist dentists and must have completed additional study after their general dentistry training. The additional training is provided under the supervision and direction of specialist dental and medical staff in various hospitals and university clinics. They provide a pediatric dentist with a broad range of experience in managing the diverse oral health care needs of children.

A pediatric dentist must register their specialist qualification with the Dental Board in their jurisdiction and restrict their practice to pediatric dentistry.

Here’s generally what pediatric dentists specialize in and why they are helpful for dental phobias.

  • Identify causes of dental disease and teach children and their families have healthy teeth and mouths.
  • Work in a completely kid-focused and friendly environment.
  • Deliver specialized techniques for managing anxious and/or young children, including using special approaches for giving local analgesia and dental sedation as well as providing dental treatment under general anesthesia.
  • Treat children who have medical, physical, and intellectual conditions including those with behavioral challenges such as autismand ADHD.

Pediatric dentists play an important role in not only helping kids to get over dental fear, but to apply important treatment that will impact the growth and development of a child’s oral cavity.

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