Does the idea of going to the dentist make you nervous? You’re not alone! Many people experience dental anxiety before and during dental appointments.
Whether you have a specific or general fear of the dentist, it’s important to recognize it and take steps to ease your feelings of anxiety so your oral health can continue to be taken care of by a dental professional.
Keep reading to learn about the top reasons people fear the dentist and the truth behind those anxieties. It may help you prepare for your next appointment.
Reasons people fear the dentist
Although there are many reasons people may have dental anxiety, six fears tend to be the most common.
Fear of pain
Many people are afraid of experiencing pain during dental visits. If you’re worried about feeling pain during dental procedures, it’s important to remember that your dental team wants you to be comfortable throughout the appointment. While certain aspects of a dental procedure may be slightly uncomfortable, such as a numbing injection for a cavity filling, your dentist will make sure it’s as pain-free as possible.
Talk with your dental team about any concerns about pain before a procedure begins, and let them know if you are experiencing pain at any point during the procedure.
The truth: There are many options available when it comes to pain control. Talk to your dentist to decide which options are best for you.
Fear of the unknown
Not knowing what to expect during a situation can be scary for anyone, especially at the dentist. If it’s been a while since you’ve had an appointment or need to go in for a procedure you’ve never had before, it’s normal to be nervous!
Be sure to talk with your dentist before your cleaning or procedure starts so you have a good idea of what to expect. Try not to search online beforehand to avoid misinformation — rely on your dentist’s expertise instead.
The truth: If you’re anxious about the unknown, talk with your dentist before your cleaning or procedure. They will walk you through the entire process so there are no surprises.
Fear of needles
Another common fear is the needles that may be used during dental procedures. The dentist might use needles to inject anesthesia into the gums or other soft tissues in the mouth to numb the area during dental work.
Typically, needles used for dental work are very small and come in various lengths ranging from long to ultra-short. No matter the needle’s size, only a small portion will be inserted into the gum or tissue. Sometimes, your dentist may apply a numbing cream before an injection to reduce or prevent pain.
The truth: Some dental work requires injections to numb gums or tissues in the mouth. Be sure to speak with your dentist if you fear needles. They will likely numb the area beforehand to ease anxiety.
Fear of the dentist
If you’ve had a negative experience with a dentist in the past, you may have a fear of dentists. Maybe a previous dentist didn’t listen to your concerns or did not take your pain seriously, which left a horrible taste for all dentists in your mouth. It’s important not to n give up and continue to look for a better fit. Picking the perfect dentist for you may take time, but it will be worth it in the end. Check out this article for tips about how to pick the right dentist for you.
The truth: One bad experience with a dentist doesn’t mean they are all like that. Take the time to interview and try new dental offices until you find the one that feels right. Don’t let one bad apple keep you from great oral health!
Fear of gagging
Gagging is never a pleasant experience, especially in a dentist’s office. Dental tools, suction devices, and X-ray paraphernalia in the mouth may make you gag, and that’s OK! The gag reflex has a purpose: to keep foreign objects from going to your lungs. Unfortunately, it’s hard for our bodies to tell the difference between a dental tool and a piece of steak.
Dentists and dental hygienists have a lot of experience with gagging and often have solutions to the gag reflex. They may have you focus on breathing through your nose or encourage you to drool during procedures. If you have a severe gag reflex, medications are available to stop or reduce it.
The truth: Many people gag at the dentist. Don’t stress, but tell your dentist or hygienist about it before starting any procedures. They will advise you on how to reduce or stop the reflex.
Fear of the cost
Another common fear some people have of the dentist is the bill after the work. If you’re worried about paying for treatment, it may keep you from going to the dentist regularly.
The good news is that if you have dental insurance, preventive cleanings are usually 100% covered, and other dental procedures have a lower cost. Dental care focuses on preventive measures rather than restorative, meaning getting regular cleanings can help prevent invasive procedures in the long run. This approach can save you both money and unnecessary pain.
The truth: If a fear of paying for dental treatment stops you from going to the dentist, options are available. Make sure you have dental coverage to reduce out-of-pocket costs, and continue to see your dentist regularly to prevent serious dental conditions that cost more to treat.
If you have a fear the dentist, for whatever reason, it’s important to know there is nearly always a solution to make the entire experience more comfortable. Please talk with your dental team openly so they can provide the best care for your specific needs. Don’t let dental anxiety or dental phobia keep you from having a healthy mouth and smile!
For more tips on how to ease dental anxiety, check out these apps that might help.