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Dental Phobia: Six Tips to Overcome Your Fear of the Dental Chair

May 13, 2014


When you think about visiting a dental office, what comes to mind? The screech of the dental drill is a sound feared by many. If the thought of going to the dentist makes you nervous, you’re not alone. In fact, more than 20 million Americans are so scared of the dentist, they don’t bother to go.

Baby boomers seem to have an even higher occurrence of dental phobia. Older adults may not have benefitted from the widespread use of fluoride, which helps keep people out of the dental chair. It’s likely that baby boomers have many more cavities than their children and grandchildren. Much of their dental care took place in a different era of dental care—before improved technology and techniques that help patients relax today.

While a dental phobia is very real, it’s important to see a dentist twice a year even if you’re nervous about a visit. If the health implications aren’t enough to defeat your dentist dread, the following tips may help you get past the anxiety:

  • Realize that your fear can be overcome. Fear is a learned behavior, so it can be unlearned.
  • Never be embarrassed. Millions of Americans share this same fear, so you shouldn’t feel silly discussing your anxiety.
  • Find a dentist who understands your fears and who will help you feel comfortable. Talk to family and friends about their dentist to see if they might be a good match for you.
  • Schedule your dental appointment during a time when you aren’t rushed or under pressure.
  • Find a distraction. Listening to music will help drown out the sound of the drill.
  • If your anxiety is extreme, talk to your dentist about pain control medications and sedation dentistry. 

Why not make an appointment to see your dentist? If he or she understands the anxiety you’re facing, you can discuss options to help you feel more comfortable.


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