Yearly Membership Plan $250 Learn More!

Understanding Dental Fear in Adults

Fear of the Dentist is a Common Phobia for Many Adults

Fear of Anything is a Powerful Controlling Force

Unless we are focused on building up our courage and self-confidence the voice of fear will take control of our thoughts and lives. Fear is a powerful emotion and it will make our choices for us. It can paralyze us and lead us into a life of procrastination and complacency. We become slaves to fear as it robs us of the experiences we desire. Fear of the unknown is the most debilitating emotion.

Dental fear unfolds in our minds when we remember a negative past experience or exaggerated horror stories. This sense of dread keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. We need to identify and acknowledge exactly which fear is stealing our peace and understand it more and fear it less.

Take Charge of your Fear

The best time to take charge of your fear is beforehand. To alleviate dental fear collect the facts, identify your insecurities and discuss them with your dentist. What are you afraid of and why?

Some Revealed Concerns of Patients are as Follows:


I was afraid of being ridiculed because of the condition of my mouth and that kept me from visiting the dentist’s office.

Deny control to that emotion and empower yourself, confident that you will achieve your goal of a pearly white smile. Professionals will not mock you because you are afraid. They understand that fear is a real emotion that overpowers the mind.


Dental procedures are painful

Verbalize your concerns about pain to your dentist. There are so many options today for pain control that pain is almost non-existent. A compassionate dentist will focus on your needs and put you at ease before treatment of any kind begins.

Dental Tools

I’m terrified of the drill. The sound makes me scream, I’m out of here!

Ask your dentist to show and explain the equipment to you. Your first visit will be a consult to evaluate your teeth and gums. A treatment plan will be discussed and all your questions answered in a language you can understand. Drilling will not occur on your initial visit. If you are courageous and return for treatment ask for headphones to blanket sounds. You can bring your own music device playing music that relaxes you.

Loss of Control

When the dentists hands and tools are in my mouth I can’t communicate

One method for interacting with your dentist is hand signals. If you need to speak just raise your hand. Discuss options of communication during treatment with your dentist at your initial consult.

Sensitive Gag Reflex

Sometimes I gag when I brush my teeth. What if I vomit?

A hyperactive gag reflex is so common many solutions are available and dentists have developed ways to help you cope. Tell your dentist of your past experiences that triggered your gag reflex. Breathing through your nose and focusing on your breathing will help you relax. Snore relief spray from Breathe Right has helped many patients. Taking a nasal decongestant to open airways or using a throat spray such as Chloraseptic to numb the area will reduce gag sensitivity.

The Dentist

Last time I went to the dentist I was terrified.

Past experiences with dentists that were cold and uncaring, treating you like you were just another set of teeth will lead you to assume that all dentists are like the ones you remember. In all occupations there are those that are wonderful and those that are not so good. Meet with your dentist and test the “vibes”. Find someone who is kind and compassionate, understanding your fears. Talk with other patients about their experiences.

Facing Fear as an Adult is Difficult

We all have anxieties and fears. Eventually, if you want to take charge of your life, you have to face your fears and overcome them. Fear only exists in the mind and when we are no longer afraid, we begin to live. By facing your fears you can open yourself up to things you never thought possible. Fear is always there as a survival instinct, you just need to know how to manage it. Defeating fear is not a light switch, for most of us it’s daily work. Don’t give up.

To arrange a consult for your life changing visit call White Oak Family Dentistry in Garner, NC call 919.986.0151 or to schedule a consultation today.

Written by White Oak Family Dentistry

White Oak Family Dentistry provides top quality dental care to patients in Garner, Clayton, Raleigh and the surrounding area. We specialize in crowns, veneers, bridges and all types of dental hygiene and care with a true compassion for our patients' comfort and well being. Call us today at (919) 986-0151 to schedule and appointment.