Why Do People Fear Dentists?

Why Do People Fear Dentists?

You’ve heard the stories before. People cringe in fear when they are told that they need to see a dentist because of a toothache, or a chipped tooth, or a cavity. Some of those who are told that they need to see a dental professional would rather suffer the pain they are feeling rather than have the dentist take care of it for them.

Why do people fear dentists, and what makes a visit to one feel like a death sentence to many? The main reason cited by most people is generally the idea of pain, plus the fact that a person is poking around in your mouth with metal tools and drills. Others cite a bad experience with a dentist at one time, which resulted in more pain rather than the expected removal or reduction of the pain. This kind of an experience can become a phobia, putting people off of the idea of seeing a dentist even when it is needed.

There are many reasons why people fear dentists, not just because of the anticipated pain or the scary noise of the drill. Some people fear dentists because of the minor things, like the idea of needles and injections being part of certain dental procedures. Others are scared of a dental visit not because of an experience they had, but because of the horror stories some people may have told them in the past about a bad experience.

Overcoming Your Dental Fear

Whatever your reasons are for being afraid of visiting a dentist, you should know that overcoming such a fear is necessary for good dental health, and to avoid worse dental problems in the future. You should make it a habit to visit a dentist regularly in order to keep your teeth healthy, and to overcome your fear of them. How do you start getting over dental fear? Here are some suggestions you might want to try:

  • Find a dentist you feel you can trust – There are many good dentists out there who are trained to help people with a fear of the dental chair to overcome such a phobia. You should try to find one who can help you get over your fear of dentists and to regain your trust in them.
  • Ask the dentist for other sedation options – If you fear the needle, ask your dentist for other options when it comes to avoiding the pain that comes with certain procedures. If you don’t want to feel the pain of the needle that is used for injecting the medication that is needed for numbing your mouth, you can ask your dentist to spray the area first with local anesthesia before any injections are used. You can also ask about the use of nitrous oxide, general anesthesia, or pills that you can take before the procedure in order to calm yourself or to numb any pain you might feel.
  • Don’t do everything in one sitting – Start with the less stressful procedures before scheduling more dental work to be done. You can start with a check-up and a dental cleaning, and then schedule other dental work in the future.
  • Talk to a professional about your fears – There are two types of dental fear, dental anxiety and dental phobia. The former is a mild fear, and the latter is more serious, with people totally avoiding dentists at all costs because of this. If your fears seem rather extreme, it might help if you talk to a counselor or psychologist about this fear.
  • Try relaxation methods – Squeezing a stress ball while in a dentist’s chair, meditating before a dental visit, and even progressive muscle relaxation techniques have been known to help ease any anxiety a person feels during these events.

These are just some of the things you can do to ease your fear of dentists. Other things you can do include bringing along a close friend or a relative when you talk to your dentist, listening to music while having a procedure done to drown out any dental noises, and to signal your dentist to stop when you feel uncomfortable at any time during the procedure.

Dr. Allan Hawryluk
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Dr. Allan Hawryluk

Allan Hawryluk Jr. is a Mississauga-based dentist who has built a reputation for comprehensive dental care. Born and raised in Port Credit, he returned after completing his dental residency in 2003 at the University of Colorado, Denver Health Sciences Center. He feels privileged to serve the community and is committed to maintaining our clinic standards set by his late father - Dr. Allan R. Hawryluk (Sr).