Overcoming Dental Anxiety

By Aaron Strickland, D.D.S. on September 13, 2018


Did you know that 5-8% of Americans avoid getting necessary dental treatment because of a fear of the dentist or dental anxiety? And another 20 percent say that they only visit the dentist when absolutely necessary because of their fears. If this is you, you are not alone.

There are many reasons someone might experience dental fears or anxiety. A negative childhood experience, lack of control, a pre-existing anxiety disorder, or even embarrassment can keep someone from visiting the dentist. Luckily, dentistry has evolved in recent years and dentists are now able to provide patients with a more positive experience. If you have been avoiding dental treatment, here are a few ways to overcome your dental anxiety. 

1. Meet your dentist before getting treated.

If you met any of our dentists outside of the office, you probably wouldn’t be scared at all! They are great folks! But as soon as they put on the lab coat, to someone with dental anxiety, they suddenly aren’t so friendly anymore.

Meeting your dentist before your procedure may help put your mind at ease. This could be as simple as setting up a time to come in to the office and talk. This is a great time to let your dentist know how you are feeling about your upcoming appointment and be open about your fears. It is likely that he or she encounters this every day and understands your concerns. This also gives you a great opportunity to ask any questions you may have, tour the office, and get to know the face behind the mask.

2. Ask a friend or family member for backup.

Having a friend or family member with you at the appointment may be reassuring to you and help you relax. You may have to clear this with the dentist first, as some dental work areas are too cramped for more than just a couple of people. It is possible that your companion may have to remain in the waiting room, but just knowing that they are nearby might help put your mind at ease. Just be sure that the person you bring does not have any fears or reservations about the dentist themselves!

3. Use noise-cancelling headphones.

For many people, just the sound of a dental drill can cause a lot of anxiety. Using noise-cancelling headphones in the appointment can help block out the sound of any loud tools or machines that would otherwise cause anxiety.

4. Ask about dental sedation.

In years past, there wasn’t a lot that could be done to help someone relax in the dentist’s chair. Today, however there are several options to help sedate patients with anxiety during the procedure. Inhaled sedatives, oral sedatives, or IV sedation can help relax patients and alter their perception of pain for an easier, more relaxed dental procedure.

5. Talk about pain-management options

 Sometimes, a fear of the dentist is rooted in a fear of impending pain. Talk to the dentist or hygienist about pain-management options, such as a topical anesthetic or medications following the procedure if necessary.

6. Ask about laser dentistry.

Depending on the dental procedure needed, laser dentistry may be an option. Laser dentistry is a revolutionary technology that is minimally-invasive, usually does not require anesthesia or sutures, is noise-free, and is virtually painless. It is frequently recommended for patients with dental anxiety, and it is even safe for kids!

At White River Dental, we deal with dental phobias every day and we know it’s a legitimate concern. We want to do everything we can to put our patients at ease and give them a positive experience in the dentist’s chair.

If you would like to schedule a time to meet with our dentists, tour our office, or find out more about dental sedation and laser dentistry, we are eager to hear from you. Connect with us on Facebook, submit the online contact form below, or give us a call at (812)378-2041.

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