Overcoming Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia


Visiting your dentist for regular checkups is essential for maintaining your health. But many people are apprehensive about visiting a dentist due to dental anxiety or dental phobia. These are  serious issues which needs to be addressed. Avoiding the dentist can result in dangerous long-term health problems.

How Common Is It?

According to Peter Milgrom, author of the book Treating Fearful Patients, “between 5 and 8 of Americans refuse to seek care from a dental professional due to some degree of fear.” Milgrom also says that “up to 20 percent of patients will go to the dentist only when necessary.”

Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia

Fear of visiting the dentist is known as dental anxiety or dental phobia. A patient with dental anxiety has “exaggerated or unfounded worries or fears” about going to the dentist. The same type of feelings are even more acute for someone with dental phobia, which produces feelings of “intense fear or dread.”

Patients with dental phobia are often “terrified or panic stricken” at the mere thought of visiting the dentist.

How to Counteract Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia

There are two ways to counteract dental anxiety:

  1. Dentists can work to make dental visits as gentle and non-threatening as possible.
  2. Patients can treat the conditions with the assistance of a mental health professional.

How Dentists Can Create a More Relaxed Environment

There are several strategies that dentists can use to create a more friendly and tranquil environment for patients who may be suffering from dental anxiety or dental phobia:

  • Speak in a soft and non-threatening manner.
  • Meet with patient in dentist’s office prior to any treatment.
  • Schedule frequent breaks during treatment.
  • Provide positive verbal reinforcement during treatment.
  • Employ non-aggressive body language.
  • Keep patients completely informed about their situation and tell them in advance about any treatment they will be receiving.
  • Never scold a patient about the condition of their teeth.

How Patients Can Reduce Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia

There are very effective strategies that can help patients with dental anxiety or dental phobia. These are some of the most effective techniques that mental health professionals employ:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Systematic desensitization
  • Visualization
  • Bio-feedback

You’re Risking Your Health When You Avoid the Dentist

People who avoid the dentist are at far greater risk for cavities and gum disease, two conditions which threaten the health of your smile. But people who don’t go to the dentist are more likely to contract serious medical conditions such as:

  • Strokes
  • Premature childbirth
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Lung disease

Your Cosmetic Dentist in Manhattan

At PerioNYC, we strive to we strive to create a calm and gentle environment for all of our patients. We specialize in treating gum disease and smile restoration cosmetic dentistry. Give us a call today and see what we can do for your smile.

Flossing v. Oral Irrigators–Choosing an Effective Interdental Cleaner
Dental Hygienist–A Career for People Who Like to Help People