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Dental Anxiety or Dental Phobia? You’re Not Alone


If you fear going to the dentist, you’re not alone. Between 9% and 20% of Americans avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety or fear. 

Dental phobia is a more serious condition than anxiety. It leaves people panic-stricken and terrified. People with dental phobia know their fear is irrational, but can’t to do much about it.  Many people avoid the dentist altogether, only to show up when forced to by extreme pain. 

Does this sound like you?  If so - we understand and sympathize.  We also invite you to try the Raleigh dental practice of Jeff M. Morrison & Associates DDS.  Our friendly and compassionate staff are willing to help you overcome your dental fear and get on the road to better oral health.

What Causes Dental Phobia and Anxiety?

There are many reasons why some people have dental phobia and anxiety. Here are just a few:

  • Fear of pain. This usually stems from an early dental experience that was unpleasant or painful, or from dental "pain and horror" stories told by others.

  • Fear of injections or fear the injection won't work. Many people are terrified of needles, especially when inserted into their mouth. Others are afraid the dentist will begin the procedure before the anesthesia has taken effect, or that it will be painful despite the anesthesia.

  • Fear of anesthetic side effects. Sometimes the anesthetic can make you feel dizzy, nauseous, or even faint, which can cause fear in some people. Others fear the sensation of numbness in their mouth or tongue associated with local anesthetics.

  • Loss of control. These emotions are common considering the situation -- sitting in a dental chair with your mouth wide open, unable to see what's going on or tell the dentist what you feel.

  • Embarrassment and loss of personal space. The physical closeness of the dentist or hygienist to their face can be upsetting to some people. People who have avoided dental care may feel embarrassment about the appearance of their teeth.

We understand and want to work with you.  Here are a few suggestions we’ve gleaned from over 30 years of helping people cope with dental fear and anxiety: 

  • Tell us ahead of time. Tell the scheduling coordinator when you book your appointment in case they want to build in a little extra time, then remind the dentist and dental staff about your anxiety when you arrive. Share any bad experiences you may have had in the past, so we can understand and address your fears.

  • Ask questions. Knowing what is going to happen may alleviates your fear of the unknown. We can explain every stage of the procedure so you are prepared for what's to come.

  • Agree on a signal. Let us know with an agreed upon hand signal whenever you’re uncomfortable, need to swallow, rinse or just catch your breath. Knowing you can take short breaks may help with your fear.

  • Speak up! If you experience pain or sensitivity during the procedure, even with an anesthetic, tell us. Some patients feel embarrassed about their pain tolerance or don’t want to interrupt a procedure. People experience pain differently, and pain tolerance may be lower for highly anxious patients – so tell us if you’re uncomfortable.

Don’t let dental anxiety or phobia prevent you from getting the care you need.  We promise to take the time to make you feel comfortable, calm and informed throughout the procedure.  Most importantly, don’t avoid dental care any longer - most dental problems will not health on their own, they will only get worse.   Let us help you achieve the goal of great oral health.   Call our friendly staff today to schedule an appointment (919) 755-450.

If you have a friend or family member in Raleigh who are afraid to go to the dentist, please share this blog with them!