Dental Anxiety: Causes and Coping Strategies

Dental Anxiety: Causes and Coping Strategies

Everyone has something they fear—and sometimes, they cannot avoid it. If you are fearful of something you face often, you have most likely built ways to cope. Dental phobia or anxiety and fear of needles fall under this category.

According to surveys, about 60 percent of all people have dental anxiety, with between five and ten percent of them having a dental phobia. Dental anxiety is relatively more common than the phobia. While it may seem easy, anxiety can sometimes become crippling.

When it comes to dental care, it is necessary to find ways to deal with your anxiety. After all, you do not want to live with cavities or gum disease. You can use proven methods and strategies to cope with the anxiety so you get the care you deserve.

What Is Dental Anxiety?


Dental anxiety is a condition where someone exhibits fits of anxiety when thinking of visiting the dentist or getting to the clinic. The fear or anxiety may range from mild anxiety to extreme fear. When it is intense fear, it is then categorized as dental phobia. Dental phobia is a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

What Causes Dental Anxiety?


People with dental anxiety or phobia usually have specific things they are afraid of. Here are some of the common fear-causing parts of dental care:



The thing about anesthesia that scares most people is not the drug itself; instead, it is the gnawing suspicion that it will fail to work. It is understandable how that can be scary. Another thing they are scared of is having their lips and part of their mouth temporarily numb.



People can be afraid that they may start to choke when they go numb. They are scared they may stop breathing while the dentist works on them.

Fear of Pain


Some people are afraid of the pain they expect to feel during recovery. It is prevalent in people who are overly sensitive to pain.

Coping Strategies


If you have any of these fears, talk to your dentist. They are in the best position to help you find ways to cope. Here are ways you can try to deal with the fears:

Breathing Exercises


One way to help yourself calm down in almost any anxiety-inducing situation is by doing deep breathing exercises. You can practice it when going to the dentist and the clinic.



You can use meditation to give you a state of heightened awareness and muscle relaxation. Meditation helps maintain focus on the present moment and not on your fearful thoughts.

Sedation Dentistry


Your dentist can suggest sedation dentistry to help you stay calm before, during, and after the visit. In this, they may use specific sedatives to help you based on your extent of anxiety.

For more on the causes and coping strategies of dental anxiety, visit Castro Valley Dentistry at our office in Castro Valley, California. Call (510) 674-0900 to book an appointment today.

All Smiles
Dental Services

Learn More

In Touch

Contact Us