Compass Health Network


Dental Anxiety: How to Overcome the Fear of Going to the Dentist

Did you know that a huge number of Americans have never visited the dentist? When it comes to rural counties, about one in ten adults have never had a dental appointment.

According to the Missouri Coalition for Oral Health, a lack of education is one cause. Another common issue, though, is dental anxiety.

If you’ve been avoiding going to the dentist out of fear, then this guide can help. Read on to learn our top five tips for overcoming and rising above the fear you feel.

1. Identify Your Triggers

When it comes to dental care, there are many things that could trigger your anxiety. It could be the social anxiety of having someone looking into your mouth. It could also be the dental tools your dentist will use. Other common triggers include:
  • Fear of pain
  • Anxious about the risks of dental sedation or other procedures
  • Fear of needles
  • Embarrassment
  • Loss of control
Many of these triggers are very valid. There are ways to work around them, though. If you can identify what’s causing your stress, then you can cope with it better.

2. Find a Dentist You Can Trust

Next, search for a dentist you feel comfortable with, you can trust, and that understands. You may need to try out a few different offices before you find one that feels right for you. It might be best to search for dentists who are prepared to handle anxious clients.

3. Explain Your Dentist Phobia to Your Provider

Once you know what’s triggering your anxiety and you have a good dentist, talk about your fear. Your provider should be willing to work with you to find alternatives to avoid your triggers. If your trigger is unavoidable, then consider coping mechanisms. Since dental phobia is a valid diagnosis, you can also consider speaking to a therapist. They’ll be able to provide even better tips for you to use. If you dread the dentist, then consider asking for a therapist to speak to you during your appointment. They can help you work through your fear during your visit.

4. Know You Are in Control of Your Dental Work

One thing that can be a huge help is to remember that you are in control of your dental work! Your dentist may recommend procedures, but you’re never obligated to follow through. Say no if you feel uncomfortable!

5. Hold Yourself Accountable

Finally, hold yourself accountable. Don’t let fear rule your life and lead you to the reality of having bad teeth. Make sure you keep up with your appointments.

Face Your Dental Anxiety and Improve Your Quality of Life

Dental anxiety is far more common than you think. You can’t let your fears cause you to miss out on crucial dental treatment, though.

Consider using the steps above to help you tackle your dental phobias once and for all.

If you’re in Missouri and you’re hoping to overcome your fear of the dentist, then we hope we can help you. Our providers have experience working with anxious adults and children.

Fill out our online form and explain your situation. One of our providers will reach out to you as soon as possible to get started on your better health journey.