How to Combat Dental Anxiety

Posted May 14, 2024 in Dental Anxiety
female in dental chair with dental anxiety

If you’ve always hated going to the dentist, you’re not alone. Over 30% of Americans suffer from dental anxiety, ranging from mild to severe. This blog discusses ways to combat dental anxiety, including the services Dr. Tomazin offers for patients who suffer from it.

5 Min Read:

What Is Dental Anxiety?

A smile communicates joy, love, and a host of other positive emotions worldwide, but what is needed to protect one’s smile can trigger the negative emotion of fear. Simply put, many people are afraid of going to the dentist. Dental anxiety, also known as dental fear or dental phobia, ranges in severity and affects as much as 36% of the population. This common anxiety can cause dental avoidance, which is when a person avoids going to the dentist and receiving dental care.

What Causes Dental Anxiety?

There are many reasons why people may develop a fear of the dentist. Some of these include:

Irrational Fear

Many fears and phobias can be associated with the dentist. A general fear of pain or the unknown, even without a specific reason, can be enough to cause a person to reschedule their dentist appointment. A patient may be averse to allowing another person access to their mouth because it feels like an invasion of their personal space. 

More severe causes, like previous trauma, can cause a person to avoid their local dental office. This trauma doesn’t have to be related to dental experiences. It can involve physical trauma to the head and neck or other forms of traumatic experiences. Generalized anxiety disorder, depression, or other conditions, such as agoraphobia (fear of being unable to escape a situation), can also contribute to dental anxiety.

Fight or Flight

Human biology can be responsible for your aversion to the dentist’s office. Our mouths are sensitive areas that are crucial for basic needs like breathing, eating, and drinking. Naturally, our brains want to protect such an important body part, so no matter how experienced a dental professional may be, we may still feel anxiety about allowing access to our teeth and mouth. The dental chair symbolizes a loss of control for some people, triggering emotions and sensations that may be difficult to ignore.

Bad Experiences in the Past

Some people experience dental anxiety because they remember pain or discomfort associated with past dental appointments. A past visit may have taken a long time, caused a lot of pain, or resulted in more damage. Understandably, an experience like this can make a person reluctant to return to any dentist. If a negative dental experience happens in childhood, it can be even more impactful on the development of dental anxiety. 

Thankfully, fear, medical and psychological conditions, human biology, and negative past experiences don’t have to stand in the way of your oral health. 

How Can You Get Over Dental Anxiety?

There are various methods you can use to deal with dental anxiety. Below are a few helpful examples.

Talk With Your Dentist

Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to share your anxieties with your dentist. You are not alone, and dentists know that many patients are scared to come in for their dental appointments. A good dentist will be happy to discuss your fears so you can get the dental treatment you need.

Try Strategies For Staying Calm

There are many relaxation techniques for dental anxiety management. These techniques target the physiological anxiety response—such as rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and muscle tension—which can affect or be caused by an emotional response. Some tried and true strategies include:


Wear headphones and listen to music, an audiobook, or a podcast during dental procedures. Entertainment can be an effective distraction that can take your mind off the dentist while in the dental chair.

Tangible Comfort

Hold items for comfort, such as a stress ball you can squeeze or a small stuffed animal. This can help release tension and provide some relief for patients whose anxiety manifests as muscle stiffening.

Breathing Techniques

Techniques for breathing techniques and muscle relaxation are excellent ways to calm the nervous system and work relatively quickly. Progressive muscle relaxation, where you tense and release each body part from toes to head, can also provide some distraction.

Chair Adjustment

If you find the horizontal position intimidating, ask your dentist if the dental chair can be put into a more vertical position.

Ask About Sedation

In cases of extreme dental anxiety or dental phobia, sedation may be a good solution. There are different levels of sedation, including mild sedation, moderate sedation, and deep sedation, as well as general anesthesia. These provide relaxation and comfort so patients can receive the treatment they need.

Dr. Tomazin understands the importance of making the dental experience free of stress and anxiety. As a trained dental anesthesiologist, he offers safe, high-quality dental anesthesia and sedation in his office for patients with anxiety and medical conditions, as well as for children.

Good dental health is essential to a beautiful smile and a crucial part of overall health and quality of life. The dentist does not have to be a source of stress and anxiety for you or your loved ones. There are solutions out there to help you have a comfortable, positive experience so you can get the care you need.

Want to Learn More About Managing Dental Anxiety in Riverside, CA?

Dr. Tomazin is a dental specialist you can trust to care about your experience as a patient. His team is here to help you navigate any anxieties you or a loved one may have about dental treatment so you can receive the care you deserve. Fill out our online contact form, or give us a call at (951) 381-8872 to schedule an appointment at our office. We look forward to hearing from you.