What Is Dental Anxiety?


You may not have heard the term, but it is likely that you or someone you know get nervous, anxious or afraid just by considering the idea of visiting a dentist. This is what is called dental anxiety.

Different people feel varying levels of anxiousness when they are told to visit a dentist. It can range from low to moderate to extremely high levels of nervousness, anxiety and fear. At the highest level, when people actually freak out with the idea of visiting dentist, the condition is called ‘dental phobia’.

While lower to moderate levels of stress and anxiety can be easily overcome, people who suffer from dental phobia get so terrified that they could do anything to avoid going to a dentist.

If you or any of your friends or family members exhibit strange behavior and are afraid of visiting a dentist, do not consider it weird or abnormal behavior. This may come as a surprise to many, but dental anxiety and phobia are quite common. According to research, about 30 to 40 million people i.e. 9 to 15 percent, suffer from these conditions in the United States alone.

A survey conducted by the British Dental Health Foundation found that out of all people who paying visit to dentist, 36% do so because they have a fear of it.

Causes of Dental Anxiety

According to research studies, following are the major reasons why so many people are afraid of visiting dentists:

Fear of Pain

The most common reason that people are afraid of visiting dentists is that the procedure would be painful. Although this anticipation is not always true, it has a powerful impact upon a person’s psychology.

Fear of Embarrassment

A lot of people feel uncomfortable with the idea of showing their oral condition to dentist. It may be because of the poor oral health, bad breath, poor appearance of teeth, and lack of self-confidence. Also, many people are highly conscious about their impressions on other people. Such people avoid going to dentists because they feel that their poor oral health would create a bad impression on the dentist. Some also have the fear of being humiliated by the dentists.

Fear of Helplessness or Lack of Control

Lying on a chair with your mouth wide open and a dentist hovering over you with strange tools makes a lot of people feel helpless and lacking any control over the situation. What makes the situation even worse for such people is that they could not see what the dentist is actually doing to their teeth. Also, they cannot anticipate what the dentist is going to do next until they are told. They feel helpless and lacking any control and this causes anxiety.

Previous Bad Experience(s)

Many people stop going to dentists after one or two bad experiences. If the previous experience is painful, humiliating, embarrassing or had caused some complications, some people feel all dental visits are going to be the same and hence, they avoid them.

Is there a way to overcome dental anxiety?

Yes, dental anxiety can definitely be controlled. Always visit an experienced dentist because they are most likely to have handled fearful patients many times in their career so they know the tactics and methods to calm down a stressed patient. Bischoff