Dental Anxiety: What to Do When You're Afraid of the Dentist

If you're afraid of visiting the dentist, you are not alone. Feeling nervous or stressed before a dental appointment is common. Many adults and children experience mild dental anxiety before a visit with the dentist, sometimes due to an uncomfortable past experience.

Our dentists understand patient fears and have new ways to help their patients feel more comfortable during a dental exam or procedure. Here are a few examples:

  • Our practices have soothing music and staff who are dedicated to making your visit pleasant and comfortable.
  • Your dentist may suggest anesthesia or sedation to help you relax. There are many forms of anesthesia and sedation techniques available. Your dentist is happy to discuss options best suited for you.
  • The dentist can help you ease into treatment by first scheduling a simple procedure before suggesting a more complicated one.
  • If the indoor temperature feels chilly, a blanket is often available for warmth.

Distraction is another way that dentists help to calm mild anxiety. For instance:

  • Listen to calming music through headphones.
  • Ask your dental professional to routinely 'check in' with you to ensure you are comfortable.

How to be Less Afraid of the Dentist

To help relieve your fear of a dental visit, ask plenty of questions. We encourage you to discuss your concerns with the dental team. They can help you feel less afraid by explaining a procedure in detail. Knowing what to expect can help to ease your mind.

Why is my child scared of the dentist?

Children listen to adults. If a parent expresses fears about visiting the dentist this can be mirrored in a child's reaction. Some youngsters are afraid of separation from their parents. Others are afraid of being in an environment that they cannot control.

Most dentists know how to calm a child's fears and help them feel more at ease during a visit. Often a dentist will a tell story or talk with the child to draw their attention away from the procedure.

What to Do if Your Child is Afraid of the Dentist

Five ways to ease your child's fear of the dentist:

  1. Use simple words to describe an upcoming exam or procedure. Ask the dentist to demonstrate the procedure on you, before they perform it on the child.
  2. Reinforce good behavior with compliments and praise.
  3. Do not schedule a dental appointment during naptime. Or, if your child tends to be cranky after a nap, keep this in mind when you schedule a time.
  4. A hungry kid is a grouchy kid. Feed the child a light meal and have them brush their teeth before the appointment. If your child is scheduled to receive sedation, please check with your dentist to make sure you understand what is and is not allowed prior to the dental visit as food or liquids may not be given prior to certain types of sedation.
  5. If your child gets upset during a visit, keep calm and work with the dentist to keep the appointment on track. Allow the dentist to engage the child in conversation. Jump in with encouragement. Let the dentist communicate with your child to turn the visit into a positive experience.

Don't be embarrassed to discuss your concerns with your dental team. They are happy to work with you to create solutions that will minimize your or your child's fears at appointment time.

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This blog is designed to provide general information and discussions about health and dental-related subjects. No doctor/dentist to patient relationship is established by your use of this blog or website. We are not providing any treatment or diagnosis on this blog, and it is not intended to offer specific dental or medical advice to anyone. The information or other content provided in this blog is not a substitute for professional dental expertise or treatment. We will do our best to provide you with information that will help you make your own healthcare decisions, however no guarantees or warranties are made regarding any of the information contained within this blog. If you have questions about any of the information presented on this blog, you should consult with your dentist. The dentists at Advantage Dental+ are licensed to practice in the states of Alabama, Florida, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas and this blog is not intended to solicit patients from other states. External links may be provided on this blog as a service and convenience to our patients and other visitors to our blog. These external sites are created and maintained by other public and private organizations, and we do not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance or timeliness of any outside information.

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Gary Allen, DMD, Advantage Dental Group, P.C. | James Thommes, DDS, Advantage Dental Oral Health Center Of Massachusetts, P.C.; Advantage Dental Oral Health And Vision Center Of Alabama, P.C.; Advantage Dental Oral Health Center Of Oklahoma, P.C.; Advantage Dental Oral Health Center Of Texas, P.C. | Cory White, DMD, Advantage Dental Oral Health and Vision Center Of Alabama, P.C. | John Clasen, OD, Advantage Dental Oral Health and Vision Center Of Alabama, P.C. | Neil Williams, DMD, Advantage Dental Oral Health Center Of Florida, PA