Easing Dental-Related Anxiety

Young woman scared of dental examination in clinic

It is perfectly normal to experience some anxiety when going to the Dentist.  Nearly 20% of the population avoid going to the dentist because of the inability to deal with dental anxiety.  You can overcome dental apprehension by learning more about this problem and talking with your dentist and dental team. 

Why Do People Experience Dentistry-Related Anxiety?

The most common causes of dental anxiety are:

  • Fear of pain
  • Feeling out of control
  • Embarrassment over the condition of your teeth
  • Poor prior experiences
  • Stories told by others who might have had a poor experience
  • Fear of needles, drills or gagging
  • Cost of extensive treatment


Some people might have a combination of different causes, which adversely affects their ability to receive regular dental care.  It is OK and best to acknowledge the things that you are worried or concerned about and to talk with the dentist or dental team about dealing with them.

When not addressed, dental anxiety can lead to unnecessary oral health problems as a result of avoidance behavior, which can ultimately lead to additional time spent in the dental office receiving more extensive and costly treatment.

  How We Can Help?

Our office staff members have experience and have been trained to help you understand what you can expect during a procedure or appointment.  If you better understand what is going to happen during your visit, it will help lessen your anxiety. 

It is OK to ask lots of questions and request additional information.  We want you to be honest about the things that bother you, so we can do everything in our power to address those issues.

 What You Can Do to Relax?

Before your appointment, it’s best to avoid caffeine and sugar, which can increase anxiety.  You should also plan on arriving 5 to 10 minutes early for your appointment, since patients who arrive late or at the last minute often times arrive with a heightened sense of stress and anxiety. 

Arriving early for your appointment also gives you that extra 5 to 10 minutes to relax and unwind in our waiting room.  Distract yourself by looking through a magazine or playing on your phone. 

You are welcome to connect to our office Wifi (access code at the Reception Desk) and connect to the internet to stream your favorite music or videos.  Please bring your AirPods or headphones, so you can enjoy your personal selection of music throughout your appointment, if it’s something that would help relax, distract and calm you during your visit.

Prior to your appointment, be upfront and honest about any concerns, apprehensions or worries that you might have.  We will do everything we can to explain what we are doing and avoid the things that you aren’t comfortable with.

While you are receiving treatment, focus on your breathing.  It is important to take regular and deep breaths.  Many anxious patients tend to hold their breath, which lowers their oxygen saturation levels and contributes to increased anxiety.

Do not schedule other things before or after your dental appointment.  When you are feeling rushed to get from one appointment to another, you will have a heightened sense of anxiety and add additional stress on to your system.  Schedule your appointments when you are well rested and avoid appointment times which are not good for you.

When you get home from your appointment, if you are still having any issues or problems; remember that we’re only a phone call away.  One of our dentists is always on call, and we’ll be glad to talk with you if you have any questions.  It is far better to ask than to just wonder or worry; and talking about your concerns will ease your anxiety.

 What if Self-Relaxation Techniques Are Not Successful?

We offer two forms of Conscious Sedation at our office.  During conscious sedations, you are not put fully to sleep, but instead are sedated to the point where you are simply more comfortable and relaxed.

We have Nitrous Oxide available at our office, which is an inhaled gas that you breathe through a nose mask during your appointment.  The Nitrous Oxide takes effect a few minutes after being placed over your nose and does a great job of relaxing patients during their appointment time.  It leaves your system within minutes of being turned off and removed from your nose.  You are able to drive to and from our office without any aftereffects or issues following its use.

We can also prescribe an oral sedative which you would take prior to your appointment time.  Oral sedatives take a little longer to take effect and leave your system, but are very effective in relaxing patients and decreasing apprehension.  You would be required to have a ride to and from your appointment when an oral sedative is used.

Regular six-month preventive checkups and cleanings help maintain oral health and detect dental problems early and get you acquainted and comfortable with the dental office and staff.  Remember that knowledge is your best tool for overcoming any anxiety or apprehension, so please feel free to ask questions about anything that concerns you.  We want to do everything we can to help make your care at our office comfortable and relaxed.