Why Are People Scared to Go To the Dentist?

added on: April 1, 2021

woman experiencing toothache

For many, going to the dentist is an easy way to ensure optimal oral health. But for others, the mere thought of entering a dentist’s office can evoke uncomfortable feelings. It is estimated that more than 10 percent of Americans avoid going to the dentist because they fear “the chair”. Avoiding the dentist, however, may lead to delays in necessary treatments. Fortunately, there are some ways to help fearful patients overcome common dental phobias. Here’s a look at five of them:


Pain, the main factor in dental phobia, offers a two-fold issue for patients scared of going to the dentist. On one hand, all past painful experiences are seared into their memory – and not likely to disappear anytime soon. Also, the anticipation of future pain acts as another reason to skip their following appointment. Talking about your past pain with the dentist can be a helpful way to ease some of those fears.

Loss of control

Lying back inside a dental chair can be the ultimate loss of control – at least for those who prefer to remain away from the dentist’s office. To assist in overcoming that fear, ask the dentist to adjust your chair or offer additional support for more comfort.

Checkered dental past

A single horror story from a visit to a dentist’s office in the past is often enough to make some folks avoid seeking treatment. Similar to the pain factor, a truthful discussion about your past dental history is strongly suggested with your new dentist or existing one.

Sensory overload

Odd-looking instruments. Loud noises. Bright lights. For some people, a trip to the dentist presents sounds and sights they would rather skip, but accept as a temporary part of life. Whether it is that unsettling whirl of rotary dental tools or the scraping of plaque off tooth surfaces, there certainly isn’t any shortage of intimidating instruments and unpleasant sounds at a dentist’s office. These factors can be a significant issue for those suffering with dental phobia. Soothing music, tweaks to lighting, and additional environmental controls will go a long way in relieving sensory-associated phobias. Talk with your dentist about accommodations.

Breathing difficulties

Some patients suffer breathing difficulties, particularly during lengthy dental procedures. This may lead to feelings of claustrophobia and associated anxiety. Don’t hesitate to communicate these concerns with your dentist. Technique adjustments and breathing aids can help put breathing difficulties to bed.

For those who need additional help easing the anxiety associated with a trip to the dentist’s office, you can rest assured that we are an experienced sedation dentist in Wilmington, NC. To learn more about our Sedation Dentistry in New Hanover County, contact Phelps Family Dentistry today at (910) 762-3481.