7 Main causes of dental anxiety

Despite mild anxiety being a common thing, or even expected from patients, those who feel a deep sense of fear when receiving dental care may reschedule appointments and avoid treatments altogether.

This could result in serious oral health issues if problems continue without treatment.

We spoke to dentist Dr. Steven Shapiro who explained that dental anxiety is a mild or moderate feeling of anxiety when the patient thinks about an upcoming dental procedure. Some people actually have no problem going to the dentist, while some patients are so scared to go that they put off the appointment until the problem becomes severe and in some cases even life-threatening.

Gaining insight into the reasons you may have a fear of visiting the dentist can assist you with overcoming your fear because there are many reasons a person may suffer from dentophobia. Here are seven main causes of dental anxiety.

  1. Fear of pain - A lot of people experience dental anxiety due to the fear of pain, even though most dental procedures are painless. For some patients, the fear comes from a bad dental experience that they had when they were children, or from horror stories of pain that they have internalized from people in their lives.


  1. Negative experiences with dentists - The most common cause of dental fear is probably negative experiences that occurred in childhood at a dental office. Your fear and anxiety could be due to a painful procedure or unpleasant attitude that was received from a dental health care provider. This has the potential to scar you for a very long time.  A normal person would be led to assume that any visits in the future would be unpleasant if they had an unpleasant experience with a dentist in the past.


  1. Embarrassment - Some patients may feel ashamed about the state of their oral health or hygiene due to the fact that they have badly injured or rotting teeth. Because of a possible bad breath, they may also be a little self-conscious. Talking about the state of their teeth may cause them to be ashamed and may make them fearful about going to a dentist. The good news is that seasoned dentists have the training to deal with all types of dental health issues, and they will be able to help. Because of this, the patient does not have anything to be embarrassed or anxious about, and they can be sure that the state of their teeth will not shock the dentist.


  1. Personal space - There are many people who are uncomfortable with people encroaching on their personal space. They may also not be comfortable with someone placing instruments into their mouth or poking around their mouth.


  1. Side effects of anesthesia - Most people have seen the side effects of anesthesia from hilariously online videos. The patient may feel nausea, numbness, and dizziness when the procedure is over. Nonetheless, these side effects are usually quickly gone when the procedure is over. This is why the patient has nothing to worry about.


  1. Loss of control - Many people usually feel an overall loss of control while seated in the dentist’s chair. They can’t see what is happening, and they do not have control over the situation.  Also, they are made to lean back with their mouths wide open. This may cause a lot of patients to have dental anxiety. Fortunately, you can reduce some of this stress by talking to the doctor beforehand. The doctor will be able to explain the procedures, answering all of the patient's questions beforehand, so there are no surprises.


  1. Fear of injections - Many people are afraid of needles, especially if the dentist injects them into their mouth. While others are sometimes afraid that the anesthesia will not do its job and that the procedure will be unbearably painful.

The statistics on dental anxiety are alarming, to say the least. It’s estimated that approximately 1 in 7 adults have had high levels of dental anxiety after a visit to their dentist, with the problem being known to affect more women than men. Those who suffer from a dental phobia frequently avoid any visits to the dentist’s office for a number of years. It is no surprise that this type of anxiety will typically result in the destruction of oral health and overall health.

How to overcome your fear

  • Just so it’s over and done with as soon as possible, you should book an early morning slot. You can also think of bringing a friend for moral support
  • Additionally, you should ask your dentist about what you’re feeling worried about. Ensure that you’re comfortable throughout the procedure by explaining that you would like to feel in control of the situation.
  • The good news is that more and more dentists are understanding the fears of their patients, so the first step to getting rid of your phobia is to book an appointment.