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Dental anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about dental care with an uncertain outcome. This can definitely include visiting the dentist especially after years of dental neglect. Dental anxiety is actually a very common fear but it can get out of control. A paralyzing dental anxiety can cause you to avoid dental care for years and in some cases decades. This dental anxiety and neglect can have long lasting impacts not only on your smile but your overall health. Recent clinical studies have linked dental disease (like periodontal disease) to cardiovascular disease, alzheimer’s disease, and even diabetes.

Dental Anxiety Feelings

Many people with dental anxiety have had a bad experience or have heard from a loved one about a significant dental experience. But that is not only reason some people avoid the dentist. Below you will find some common reasons why dental anxiety and dental neglect can occur:

Dental Anxiety Marielaina Perrone DDSFear Of Pain. Let’s face it no one wants to feel pain or discomfort. While dentistry has come a long way there are some parts that can cause some slight pain for some. For many they are OK but for others they are overly sensitive to oral discomfort. This is quite normal for us all to react differently to different events in our lives. Dentistry does not have to be a painful event and in most cases with a properly trained dentist and staff it is not. Choose wisely.

Fear Of Unknown. Not knowing what the dentist will say or find can cause a great deal of dental anxiety. Will I have a cavity? Will the dentist say I need a lot of treatment? All valid questions and concerns. Most people fail to realize going to the dentist every 6 months for routine checkups and cleanings will make things easier going forward. This is because any issues are caught immediately and can be handled before they get out of hand. Your gum tissues will also be healthier making the teeth cleaning easier and more comfortable.

Embarassment. A dentist or doctor is perceived as an authority figure by many. No one wants to be told they have a bad smile or have not done a good job with dental hygiene at home. A well trained dentist would never make you feel embarassed. Your dentist has seen it all. It will not phase them in the least what they find, so it should not bother you either.They would communicate the steps forward to fix the issues at hand. There is nothing to feel embarassed about.

Past Experiences. This can be a direct experience by you or an indirect experience by a loved one. Either way it will add to the dental anxiety as your dental visit approaches.

Overcoming Dental Anxiety – Communication Is The Key

Relay your fears to the dental staff and dentist. A well trained, experienced dentist will handle all patients the same and make you feel at home in the dental chair. Below are a few tips for you at your dental visit.

Be Honest and Upfront. Communicate your dental anxiety to the team and dentist so they can help you thru your visit. A well trained dentist will communicate with you and try to alleviate your fears in a variety of ways. These can include inviting you to the office prior to your appointment to just meet and talk. It can also include giving you a detailed explanation of what is to be completed at your visit so you do not have any surprises pop up.

Early Morning Appointment. For those with dental anxiety, getting the dental care done first thing in morning is best. This way there is no dwelling all day on it. Put your mind at ease and get it done first thing in the morning.

Bring Support. Bring a close friend or family member with you.

Use a STOP sign or word. You and your dental team can use a stop word or sign for when you feel the dental anxiety building and you need a break.

“Communication Is The Key To Overcoming Dental Anxiety.” – Marielaina Perrone DDS

Other Dental Anxiety Relieving Methods

-Exercise. Regular exercise can help lower stress and anxiety. Exercise helps by releasing endorphins and improving your sleep and self-image.

-Supplements Use. Certain supplements can reduce stress and anxiety. These can include ashwagandha, omega-3 fatty acids, green tea and lemon balm.

-Aromatherapy. Lighting a candle can help lower anxiety and stress. Lighting a candle or using essential oils can benefit dental anxiety from calming scents.

-Baby Steps. Try not to take on more than you can handle. Saying no is one way to control your dental anxiety. Your dentist will be cognizant of your dental anxiety and space out appointments in what is best for you. Obviously you will not be able to sit in chair for extended periods of time in the beginning so your appointment schedule will reflect your dental anxiety needs.

-Yoga. Just like exercise mentioned earlier yoga can be used for stress reduction and dental anxiety relief. It may help lower stress hormone levels and blood pressure.

-Power Of Music. Listening to your favorite music can be a good way to relieve stress and anxiety.

-Breathing Exercises. Deep breathing activates the relaxation response helping relieve dental anxiety. Focus on evenly inhaling and exhaling. This will help slow down and re-center your anxious mind.

How To Ease Dental Anxiety Conclusion

Dentistry has come a long way and patients comfort is of the utmost concern for most dentists. A well trained dentist will be able to handle your dental anxiety and design a dental schedule that is right for you. The bottom line is to keep you healthy both dentally and overall. Most people with dental anxiety report that the visit to the dentist ended up not being what they had imagined all along. It was much easier. Dental anxiety can be overcome but communication is the key.




Dental anxiety and dental phobia can be a major health issue for a good percentage (%) of the population. It can disrupt our lives and our health in many ways. The sad truth is many parents pass on their fear of the dentist to their children without even realizing it. Overcoming the fear is possible with the right dentist and the right approach.

Why Do Kids Fear The Dentist?

Most kids are fearful of the unknown. Whether it be the dark, what lurks in the closet, or what their parents have taught them to fear. The first visit to the dentist should be done around age 1-3. The first appointment should be simple and fun. It is better to not wait for problems that need further treatment. Most of us would not be afraid of an oral exam, x-rays and a cleaning.  Unfortunately, many parents are unaware of this and wait until the child is older or has a dental issues that need to be addressed immediately. Children are also super perceptive of their surroundings and are easily influenced by their parents. Therefore the fears can be passed on down to the kids. If a parent is afraid and openly shows it, a child will see that and feel the same way. A positive outlook on dental care, a caring dentist, and at home good oral habits and diet ,will lead to a child free of dental issue.

Parental Supervision Is Important

Taking care of oneself can be a positive experience if educated properly on the benefits. Recent research has shown maintaining good dental care can keep our overall bodies healthy. Parents need to play an active role in their child’s dental health. That includes monitoring their child’s brushing in the morning and evenings until the child is comfortable and confident to do it on their own.

Most kids, will choose to do the fun activity over the boring one. If the task is not fun it will be rushed through or avoided all together. This directly applies to how well children brush and take care of their teeth. This is one area where kids definitely need our guidance to maintain a healthy smile.

It is recommended that you brush 2x per day for a minimum of two minutes each time. Two minutes can feel like forever for a child. To get your child to brush and floss for the proper time, try making a game out it. Set a timer for two minutes and challenge your child to brush until the timer goes off, or sing songs while brushing. Cute, fun toothbrushes are in stores everywhere. Choose one that’s small enough for your child to hold comfortably by his or herself, with a small, rounded head and very soft, polished bristles. An electric toothbrush is also recommended for little ones. An electric toothbrush makes it easier to use and makes them feel like big grown ups. Whichever brush they choose it should be replaced every few months, particularly for preschoolers who tend to chew while they brush. For babies, a soft finger toothbrush, or wet wash cloth are easiest to use for you and them. Some children’s toothbrushes also have lights that flash or music that plays which serves as a built-in timer. Set the timer again for two minutes for flossing. There are also fun flossers that make it easier to do the best job possible. Another tip would be to brush with your child — Stand side-by-side in front of the bathroom mirror and brush together. Have fun. Let your child mimic your brushing technique. Another helpful tool is the use of a plaque disclosing solution. This solution will allow you and them to see where the plaque is before brushing and what was missed after brushing. Then you can “help” them remove the last of the plaque. Once the color is gone, the plaque is too! The entire process should take just a few minutes in the morning and a few minutes at bedtime.

Tips To Avoid Dental Anxiety In Children

Introduction To Dentist. Set up a meet and greet appointment with your dentist. Your child can tour the office meet the staff and dentist. Get comfortable in the surroundings so it is not as much of an unknown to them. Another good way to get them familiar is have them go to the dentist with an older sibling or you and watch what happens. This takes away the fear of the unknown.

Use Positive Words And Actions. Talking positively about your dentist and your own dental care will instill comfort in your children. It will allow them to relax further.

Set Up A Rewards System. Encourage brushing and flossing and doing well at dental appointments by offering up a special prize over time. Kids love rewards. Establish a reward your child will earn for having a perfect dental examination, such as that new video game or doll they may have been wanting. Make sure they understand that brushing, flossing, and limiting sweets are all ways to reach their goal. You can even tape a photo of the reward to the bathroom mirror for daily reinforcement. Tell your dentist about the reward system, so he or she can also encourage your child at each checkup. If you are still finding cavities, diet may need to be looked at more closely, and a fluoride rinse may need to be added into the routine. Remember to schedule your child’s dental checkups every six months. Very important to stay on schedule and go when needed. You are laying the foundation for your child’s oral health and general health throughout life.

Praise Your Child. Give them encouragement by telling them they are doing great and keep up the good work. This will encourage them to continue their healthy habits into the adulthood.

Be A Good Teacher. It is important for children to know the Why and How of things. Same goes with dental care. If they are simply forced to do it without reason they will fight you. If they realize it is for their benefit or it is fun they will choose to do it. Be sure to explain the importance of brushing and flossing in simple terms kids can understand. For example: “Flossing is important because it removes cookies and food left between your teeth. Do you want tooth bugs stuck in between your teeth?” At your child’s next dental examination, ask your dentist to reinforce the proper brushing and flossing techniques.

Find A Dentist That Works Well With Children. Not all dentists work well with children. It has become very commonplace to go see a pediatric dentist for the children and a separate one for the parents. This does not have to be the case. There are many family dentists who love seeing children in their practice as well. This makes it easier to schedule appointments as a family and also allows your children to see the positive experiences you are having. With the right dental team, dentistry can be an enjoyable experience.

Dental Anxiety Conclusion

Dentistry can be a challenging experience for children and adults. It does not need to be that way. With proper at home care and routine dental visits it can be a positive experience for the entire family.





Dental phobia and dental anxiety can be a serious issue affecting over 35 million Americans alone. Many people have such an overwhelming fear of dental care that they force themselves to deal with constant pain and discomfort. Research has shown a definite body/mouth connection. Not maintaining good dental care can have dramatic negative effects on your overall health and well being. In recent years sedation dentistry has become quite popular, but sleeping through dental treatment does not allow you to develop the tools to overcome dental phobia and dental anxiety in a healthy manageable way. Common dental phobias include fear of dental pain, loss of control, and fear of needles or injections.

Top Methods To Cope With Dental Anxiety

Fortunately, both dental anxiety and dental phobia can be overcome with some work from both you and your dentist. You should never let fear stop you from seeking regular dental care. With proper steps taken by patient and dentist, and some patience, those fears will minimize so that you can not only seek treatment, but actually feel comfortable in the dental office. Some of the top methods for coping with dental anxiety and dental phobia include:

Communication – For many, the dental phobia began as a child. A dentist might have scolded or talked down to their younger patients, making them feel like they did not have a voice in their treatment or even when it was uncomfortable for them. Even adults have reported these similar feelings, where they feel they might be ridiculed for being afraid. Open lines of communication can give back a full sense of control over your dental treatment. This control helps to decrease the feeling of helplessness. Being a part of the decision making on treatment, knowing what to expect, and knowing if you feel uncomfortable your dentist will stop, can make any dental patient feel better. Communication and control can be the differentiating factor between those suffering from dental phobia and dental anxiety, and those who have found a way to work past it. A good tip is, if you are anxious about something just come right out and talk to the dentist about it.

“Talk” with your hands. Most dentists will give their patients hand signals to communicate. This is very important for those suffering from dental phobia. This gives the patients an increased control knowing the dentist can till listen to them while dental care is ongoing.

Distractions – Developing the ability to take control of your mind and allow yourself to be distracted from the dental treatment. The top ways to achieve distraction are:

1) meditation – a relaxation of mind and body musculature.

2) audio distraction – listening to music, or the voice of your dentist while they talk you through the process with casual conversation. Even the sound of a soothing voice can lower anxiety levels. A good tip is to listen to an audio book while undergoing treatment. This will engage your ears and your mind to distract you from the task at hand.

3) visual distraction–  watching television or a movie, even staring at a relaxing picture during dental treatment. For many, wearing headphones can help to block out much of the dental noises that increase their anxiety, listening to a personal story about  the dentist, visualizing a relaxing setting, and muscle relaxation can make the experience much more tolerable and possibly even enjoyable!

-Be Prepared – Ask your dentist in advance what you can expect during your visit and how procedures, such as injections, are handled. Some may enjoy hearing a play by play and others will not. Talk it over with your dentist when going through your initial dental examination.

Muscle Relaxation Techniques – The key here is to place focus on your body parts, relaxing them one at a time. You can start with your toes or hands and work your way across your body, squeezing then relaxing each area of your body progressively. This removes your focus on the dental care and places it on your body achieving the goal of relaxing and calming yourself. Try squeezing a stress ball in 1 or both hands.

-Take A Mini Vacation In Your Mind! – To help ease your nerves and control pain during dental treatment, imagine yourself in a relaxing, enjoyable setting. For example, visualize calming colors or scenes such as the ocean, think about the sound of the waves as you relax on your favorite beach or, if you enjoy hiking, imagine yourself walking along a trail next to a river. The more detail you add to the image, the less focused you will be on the dental procedure. This technique takes practice initially, but once you gain confidence in yourself and your dentist it will get easier to do. If you find that your mind drifts away from your image, gently turn your attention back to the scene you created. Try practicing meditation with visualization at home before your appointment when you feel stressed about upcoming dental treatment.

-Breathing Exercises – This is a great technique for your drive over to the dental office, or while waiting for your appointment. Deep breathing can be a great technique to relax your mind and body prior to dental work. By taking in slow, deep breaths, the oxygen flow will have a calming effect on your entire body. Remember, slow and deep, NOT short and fast, as this can cause you to hyperventilate.

-Take Frequent Breaks. Patients may need to take breaks during dental procedures, when anxiety builds up or they start to feel claustrophobic. If you feel like you need a break, let your dentist know and he/she will gladly stop to give you the time and space necessary.

Acupuncture/Acupressure – Acupuncture/acupressure have many benefits for patients who are dentally anxious. For this to be fully effective, the acupuncture  should be completed as close to the dental appointment as possible, while some acupressure can be done during the dental appointment. This will not work for all patients but it has been a successful technique for many in attempting to overcome dental phobia and dental anxiety.

Conclusion

The key to overcoming and coping with your dental fear is to remember that you are not alone. If you choose the right dentist and dental team, they will be with you every step of the way, guiding you to help you overcome your fears. In the beginning it may seem insurmountable but one step and one appointment at a time, and the visits become easier and easier. You might actually begin to wonder why you didn’t do this earlier. Do not let dental phobia prevent you from being healthy in all aspects of your life. Take control of your health today!


Dental anxiety and dental phobia is an issue for a good percentage of the population. It can disrupt our lives and our health in many ways. The sad truth is many parents pass on their fear of the dentist to their children without even realizing it. Overcoming the fear is possible with the right dentist and the right approach.

Why Do Kids Fear The Dentist?

Most kids are fearful of the unknown. Whether it be the dark, what lurks in the closet, or what their parents have taught them to fear. The first visit to the dentist should be done around age 1-3. The first appointment should be simple and fun. It is better to not wait for problems that need further treatment. Most of us would not be afraid of an oral exam, x-rays and a cleaning.  Unfortunately, many parents are unaware of this and wait until the child is older or has a dental issues that need to be addressed immediately. Children are also super perceptive of their surroundings and are easily influenced by their parents. Therefore the fears can be passed on down to the kids. If a parent is afraid and openly shows it, a child will see that and feel the same way. A positive outlook on dental care, a caring dentist, and at home good oral habits and diet ,will lead to a child free of dental issue.

Parental Supervision Is Important

Taking care of oneself can be a positive experience if educated properly on the benefits. Recent research has shown maintaining good dental care can keep our overall bodies healthy. Parents need to play an active role in their child’s dental health. That includes monitoring their child’s brushing in the morning and evenings until the child is comfortable and confident to do it on their own.

Most kids, will choose to do the fun activity over the boring one. If the task is not fun it will be rushed through or avoided all together. This directly applies to how well children brush and take care of their teeth. This is one area where kids definitely need our guidance to maintain a healthy smile.

It is recommended that you brush 2x per day for a minimum of two minutes each time. Two minutes can feel like forever for a child. To get your child to brush and floss for the proper time, try making a game out it. Set a timer for two minutes and challenge your child to brush until the timer goes off, or sing songs while brushing. Cute, fun toothbrushes are in stores everywhere. Choose one that’s small enough for your child to hold comfortably by his or herself, with a small, rounded head and very soft, polished bristles. An electric toothbrush is also recommended for little ones. An electric toothbrush makes it easier to use and makes them feel like big grown ups. Whichever brush they choose it should be replaced every few months, particularly for preschoolers who tend to chew while they brush. For babies, a soft finger toothbrush, or wet wash cloth are easiest to use for you and them. Some children’s toothbrushes also have lights that flash or music that plays which serves as a built-in timer. Set the timer again for two minutes for flossing. There are also fun flossers that make it easier to do the best job possible. Another tip would be to brush with your child — Stand side-by-side in front of the bathroom mirror and brush together. Have fun. Let your child mimic your brushing technique. Another helpful tool is the use of a plaque disclosing solution. This solution will allow you and them to see where the plaque is before brushing and what was missed after brushing. Then you can “help” them remove the last of the plaque. Once the color is gone, the plaque is too! The entire process should take just a few minutes in the morning and a few minutes at bedtime.

Tips To Avoid Dental Anxiety In Children

Introduction To Dentist. Set up a meet and greet appointment with your dentist. Your child can tour the office meet the staff and dentist. Get comfortable in the surroundings so it is not as much of an unknown to them. Another good way to get them familiar is have them go to the dentist with an older sibling or you and watch what happens. This takes away the fear of the unknown.

Use Positive Words And Actions. Talking positively about your dentist and your own dental care will instill comfort in your children. It will allow them to relax further.

Set Up A Rewards System. Encourage brushing and flossing and doing well at dental appointments by offering up a special prize over time. Kids love rewards. Establish a reward your child will earn for having a perfect dental examination, such as that new video game or doll they may have been wanting. Make sure they understand that brushing, flossing, and limiting sweets are all ways to reach their goal. You can even tape a photo of the reward to the bathroom mirror for daily reinforcement. Tell your dentist about the reward system, so he or she can also encourage your child at each checkup. If you are still finding cavities, diet may need to be looked at more closely, and a fluoride rinse may need to be added into the routine. Remember to schedule your child’s dental checkups every six months. Very important to stay on schedule and go when needed. You are laying the foundation for your child’s oral health and general health throughout life.

Praise Your Child. Give them encouragement by telling them they are doing great and keep up the good work. This will encourage them to continue their healthy habits into the adulthood.

Be A Good Teacher. It is important for children to know the Why and How of things. Same goes with dental care. If they are simply forced to do it without reason they will fight you. If they realize it is for their benefit or it is fun they will choose to do it. Be sure to explain the importance of brushing and flossing in simple terms kids can understand. For example: “Flossing is important because it removes cookies and food left between your teeth. Do you want tooth bugs stuck in between your teeth?” At your child’s next dental examination, ask your dentist to reinforce the proper brushing and flossing techniques.

Find A Dentist That Works Well With Children. Not all dentists work well with children. It has become very commonplace to go see a pediatric dentist for the children and a separate one for the parents. This does not have to be the case. There are many family dentists who love seeing children in their practice as well. This makes it easier to schedule appointments as a family and also allows your children to see the positive experiences you are having. With the right dental team, dentistry can be an enjoyable experience.

Dental Anxiety Conclusion

Dentistry can be a challenging experience for children and adults. It does not need to be that way. With proper at home care and routine dental visits it can be a positive experience for the entire family.