Dental Anxiety and Phobia

Some people do not enjoy and do not look forward to going to the dentist, even for routine check-ups and cleanings. Most are able to suffer through some anxiety about dental visits and procedures, but those with dental phobia often put off going to the dentist

for long periods of time due to the thought of going to the dentist is so terrifying. Avoiding dental appointments is not good for

oral health and overall health, and creates problems that could have possibly been prevented. Below we go over what dental anxiety and phobia are, what the causes are and symptoms of dental phobia and anxiety.

What is it?

People with dental anxiety feel uneasy about dental appointments, and may have exaggerated worries. People with dental phobia have a much more serious condition in which they feel an intense fear or dread. These people are terrified and/or panic stricken rather than feeling anxious or nervous. Although people with dental anxiety will avoid the dentist, people with dental phobia will put off dental care for years and deal with gum disease, pain, and other serious dental issues in order to avoid going to the dentist. People with dental phobia are at higher risk for gum disease, tooth loss as well as emotional costs due to teeth that are not taken care of properly being discolored or unsightly and causing them to become insecure.

What are the causes?

There are many different reasons that people develop dental anxiety and phobia. A few of the leading reasons are:

1. Pain. Fear of pain is common in adult patients, probably due to past experiences earlier in life before many of the advantages in dentistry allowed it to be mostly “pain-free”.

2. Helplessness. Many people develop fear in situations in which they do not have any control. When visiting the dentist, they need to sit still in the chair and cannot see what’s going on and cannot predict whether or not there will be pain involved. It is very common for people to feel helpless of not in control and trigger anxiety.

3. Negative Past Experiences. People that have had negative dental visits that included pain and discomfort amongst other things will most likely be more anxious to go back to the dentist again.

4. Embarrassment. The mouth is one of the most intimate parts of the human body, and it can be embarrassing to have someone looking inside the mouth. This issue can be worsened if the person is embarrassed about the way their teeth looked or the way that they’ve taken care of them. Also, dental visits usually require the dentist and staff to be very close to the person’s face, which may make people uncomfortable and cause anxiety.

What are the symptoms?

Many people experience anxiety and phobia differently and have different methods of coping with it. Some of the main symptoms of dental phobia are:

1. Losing sleep the night before a dental exam.

2. The thought of going to the dentist makes the person feel nauseous.

3. When thinking of going to the dentist, the person feels like crying.

4. The person panics or has difficulties breathing when objects are placed in the mouth for the dental exam.

5. The person feels increasingly nervous while in the waiting room of the dentist.

If any of these symptoms relate to you, or if you have any questions or concerns about dental phobia and anxiety, visit Dr. Mina Levi Dentist San Francisco on the web at

or give us a call at (415) 513-5066. She can help you overcome feelings of anxiety about dental visits and will be proactive about it in your treatment.


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