How Common Is Dental Anxiety?

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A blonde woman with dental anxiety covers her mouth as gloved hands approach her with dental tools.

Dental fear is so common it often tops the long list of phobias individuals can experience. Whether it’s the dentist, the tools, the sound, or a combination of factors, there are ways to reduce or eliminate the associated fear. In this blog, we’ll explore the prevalence of dental anxiety and phobias, discuss common triggers, dental sedation, and why attending regular checkups as well as undergoing recommended procedures can protect their smiles and overall health.

4 Min Read:

Who Does Dental Anxiety Affect?

Dental anxiety is surprisingly common, affecting an estimated 36% of people worldwide. Dental phobias affect more than three percent of the population, ranking higher than phobias relating to heights and spiders.

While dental anxiety and phobias affect individuals of all ages and backgrounds, research has shown that dental anxiety is more prevalent among women, younger individuals, and those with a history of negative dental experiences.

For some, the mere thought of sitting in a dentist’s chair can evoke fear, dread, and panic, making it challenging to seek regular dental care and undergo necessary procedures. However, with the right strategies and support, individuals can overcome their fears and take control of their oral health.

The Difference Between Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia

Dental anxiety is a common condition characterized by feelings of nervousness, tension, or apprehension in anticipation of dental visits or procedures. While many people experience some degree of anxiety about visiting the dentist, dental phobia is a more severe form of anxiety that can be debilitating and overwhelming. Individuals with dental phobia may avoid dental care altogether, putting their oral health at risk and exacerbating existing dental problems.

The Top 5 Ways Patients Can Overcome Dental Fears

While dental anxiety and phobias can be challenging to overcome, there are several strategies that dental professionals can use to help patients feel more comfortable and confident about receiving dental care:

1. Open Communication

Open and honest communication between patients and their dentists is essential for building trust and alleviating anxiety. Express concerns and fears openly, and take the time to address any questions or uncertainties you may have.

2. Education and Information

Dentists who understand their patients’ concerns can provide them with information about the dental procedure(s), techniques, and options they have. By explaining each step of the process in clear, simple terms and using visual aids or demonstrations to illustrate key concepts, the dentist helps demystify the dental experience and reduce anxiety.

3. Gradual Exposure

For patients with severe dental phobias, gradual exposure to dental treatments in a controlled and supportive environment can be an effective approach. Starting with simple, non-invasive procedures, such as routine cleanings or examinations, and gradually progressing to more complex treatments can cause confidence to grow.

4. Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, visualization, or guided imagery, often help patients manage anxiety and stress during dental procedures. Those with dental anxiety who practice these techniques at home can use them during dental appointments to promote relaxation and calmness.

5. Sedation Dentistry

For patients with severe dental anxiety or phobias, sedation dentistry techniques, such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or oral sedatives, can help induce a state of relaxation and comfort during simple dental treatments or more complex procedures like dental implant insertion or oral surgery. Discussing sedation dentistry options with your dentist will help them tailor their approach to your needs and preferences.

The Importance of Regular Checkups and Necessary Treatment

  • Attending regular dental checkups and undergoing necessary procedures is essential to maintain good oral health and prevent dental problems from worsening over time.
  • Regular dental checkups and preventive care are vital to maintaining oral health, addressing emerging dental issues, and avoiding more extensive and costly procedures in the future.
  • Find a dentist who offers flexible scheduling options, including evening or weekend appointments, to accommodate your schedule and make it easier to prioritize dental care.

You can keep a simple issue from becoming an emergency by receiving prompt dental care.

Overcoming Dental Anxiety in Chicago, IL

Dental anxiety and phobias can present significant barriers to seeking regular dental care and undergoing necessary procedures. However, by seeing a compassionate and gentle dentist like Dr. Fedin in Chicago, Illinois, and communicating your concerns, you can begin to overcome your fears and take control of your oral health.

Dr. Fedin uses Waterlase® to provide comfortable dental treatments and offers sedation dentistry at his Chicago practice. To learn more, call (312) 642-6631 today.


Contact Us

Chicago Office

919 Michigan Ave
Floor 3
Chicago, IL 60611

(312) 642-6631

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4905 Old Orchard Center
Suite 420
Skokie, IL 60077

(847) 676-0484