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Easing Your Fear of the Dentist

By Commonwealth DentistryMarch 18, 2021Dental Learning Center

A fear of the dentist should not hold you back from going to the dentist, however, for some that is easier said than done. Oral health is an important indicator in determining your overall health. While there are many compelling reasons for visiting the dentist, they may feel trivial if you experience a strong fear of the dentist. At Commonwealth Dentistry, we are committed to going above and beyond by offering the best possible dental care.  

It is estimated that between 9 and 20 percent of Americans avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety of fear of the dentist.

What is a Fear of the Dentist?

If you experience a fear of the dentist, it is important to remember you are not alone, a recent study showed that 60% of participants exhibited fears associated with the dentists. 

  • Fear vs. Phobia- A fear can be a strong dislike for doing something; a phobia on the other hand is a type of anxiety disorder.
  • Dentophobia (also called odontophobia) is an extreme fear of going to the dentist. It’s estimated that 2.7 percent of men and 4.6 percent of women have dentophobia.

fear of the dentist

Why are Patients Afraid of the Dentist? 

Fear of the DiagnosisThe actual diagnosis can cause fear itself. Perhaps you have experienced pain or an issue for months but have put off going to the dentist for a myriad of reasons. This could be related to cost, how will you afford this dental need?  Embarrassment may be another reason you are pushing off your dental visits. You fear you will be judged for allowing the condition to arise or worsen to this level.

Commonwealth Dentistry’s Promise: We promise to talk in depth regarding any fears or issues that you have. Our goal will always be to provide the best possible care at all times. 

Fear of Pain– We all have different thresholds for pain. Fear of pain arises from traumatic events of the past or even from horror stories told from others. Until relatively recently, many dental procedures were associated with a great deal of pain, however much has changed. Almost all procedures are virtually pain free. 

Commonwealth Dentistry’s Promise: We will take every measure possible to make sure your experience is a pleasant one. We promise to provide a gentle, personalized touch. 

Fear of Numbing and Injections– While some may be afraid of the actual injections others still are afraid that the injection will not work. Resulting in feeling everything that goes on in their mouth. If you have experienced chocking or difficulty breathing in the past, this may leave you worried about having your mouth numb. 

Fear of Helplessness– Often fear stems from not being able to control what is happening to you, when in the dental chair you may feel stuck or unable to see what is going on.

Commonwealth Dentistry’s Promise: We promise to talk through everything with you and make sure you feel at ease in our care. 

Fear of the Instruments– The dental instruments sounds and smells can be overwhelming, plus they are heightened due to the close proximity to your face. Simply seeing the instruments can also invoke fear.

Commonwealth Dentistry’s Promise: If your fear is associated with the look of instruments, let us know and we will do everything we can to keep those out of sight. 


How to Find the Right Dentist for You

Finding the right dentists is key to easing your own fear of the dentist.

  1. Ask yourself: 
    1. What would my “ideal” visit to a dentist be like? 
    2. How would an “ideal dentist” mitigate your dental fears?
    3. What would make you feel most at ease in the dental chair?
  2. Ask for recommendations from a trusted source such as a friend, family member, or coworker. 
  3. Contact the office. Ask if offices have worked with dental phobias before and what measures they take to mitigate fears
  4. Advocate for yourself, let your dentist know that you are more aware of pain than others.  Be open and honest about your fears. What triggers you? Where did you fears start? Having this open and honest communications prepares both you and your dentists on how to better accommodate your needs. Knowledge is power, simply putting your fears out there may help you feel better. You do not have to have a face to face conversation about your fear of the dentist, instead try:
    1. Send an email or a Facebook or Instagram message.
    2. Write down your fears and hand it to dentist when you meet them. 
    3. Call us anytime to address your fears.

What We Promise to Help Ease Your Fears

Suffering from dental anxiety is not unusual, we understand that finding the right dentist is key to mitigating your fears. The right dentist will always take your concerns seriously and do what they can to alleviate your fear of the dentist. We also understand that avoiding the dentist altogether can lead to serious health conditions and more expensive treatment down the line, thus trying to find a way for your to be comfortable in our office is paramount in getting you the treatment that you need. 

We promise personalized care for each and every patient. Our staff will treat you with compassionate care from the front desk all the way back to the dental chair. Together we will work to make your experience not just bearable, but in time something you look forward to.


fear of the dentist, sedation dentistrySedation Techniques

Sedation dentistry may alleviate your fear of the dentist by offering and safe and easy way to relax when you have dental procedures and treatments. There are several options to ease your worries when it comes to sedation techniques.

Oral Sedation

Technique: Medication (oral pill) that puts you in a semi-conscious, relaxed state

What to Expect: You remain awake and calm throughout the procedure, but likely will not remember the procedure once it is complete.

Nitrous Oxide

Technique: More commonly known as laughing gas, you will breathe the gas through a mask that fits snugly over your nose.  

What to Expect: The soothing techniques will take over almost immediately. You will remain relaxed and calm, but also conscious and aware throughout your procedure. Upon removal, the effects of the gas wear off very quickly.

IV Sedation

Technique: Usually reserved for more extensive and complicated procedures, IV sedation is also a good option if you need to undergo multiple procedures simultaneously. 

What to Expect: An IV is gently inserted into your arm, delivering medicine throughout the procedure. You will remain relaxed and awake, while being closely monitored the entire time.

What You Can do to Ease Your Own Fears

  • Express any concerns with our staff formulating a system that works for you. Commonwealth Dentistry always promises to offer compassionate, personalized care. 
  • Find quite appointment times– if the noise of tools is something that brothers you visiting during off hours.
  • Try to schedule early in the day– if you get the appointment over and done with then you don’t spend the day worrying about the upcoming events building them up in your head.
  • Bring noise-canceling headphones or ear buds with music to help you relax. Listen to your music, podcasts  etc even in the waiting room to help take your mind off of upcoming events. 
  • Ask the dentist team to explain each task being completed so your will know what is going on and feel like an active participant in your own dental treatment. 
  • Don’t get to your appointment too early- excess time leaves time for your anxiety to build.  
  • Ask a friend or a loved one to accompany you during your appointment.
  • Practice deep breathing and other meditation techniques to calm your nerves.
  • Establish a signal that means you need a break with your dentist
  • Seek resources to help learn others way to cope. This website may be a helpful took when overcoming fear of the dentist. 
  • Seek medical help if you are experiencing extreme anxiety.

We believe in a strong relationship amongst patients and staff. While fear of the dentist is a common condition, we aim to do everything we can to make you feel at ease with at our offices. Commonwealth Dentistry promises to deliver the best possible care when you trust us with your dental health.  We want you to feel comfortable and find your dental home as part of our Commonwealth Family.

Commonwealth Dentistry

Author Commonwealth Dentistry

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