Checklist

Recognizing the Signs of Dental Phobia

Dental phobia is a serious problem. It causes panic and extreme fear. Here are signs that you may have a dental phobia:1

  • Avoiding a dentist visit until severe pain makes it necessary.
  • Problems sleeping before going to the dentist.
  • Uneasy feelings while waiting in the dental office.
  • Feeling physically ill when thinking about going to the dentist.
  • Problems breathing when getting dental care.
Stethoscope

Common Dental Fears

Realizing the cause of dental fears can help with the treatment. Some common dental fears are:1

  • Fear of pain. Can be caused by an early negative dental experience.
  • Fear of shots. Some people are scared of needles. Others also worry that the anesthesia given won’t work and they’ll still feel the pain.
  • Side effects from anesthesia. Some people worry about how the anesthesia will make them feel. They fear getting dizzy, being nauseated or having a numb lip.
  • Loss of personal space. Many feel self-conscious with the physical closeness of the dentist or hygienist.
  • Loss of control. People sometimes struggle with not being able to see what’s going on in their mouths.

Control Your Fears

You can reduce your anxiety and improve your oral health. Here’s how:1

  • Communicate openly. Discuss your dental fears with your dentist. Ask questions about your oral health and your treatment.
  • Make a plan. Your dentist should work with you to address your fears. If your dentist doesn’t take your fears seriously, find another dentist.
  • Express yourself. Ask your dentist to explain what’s happening. Establish a hand signal to use if you want the dentist to stop. Use the signal if you’re uncomfortable or if you need to take a break.