Phone: 703-936-6250

Is It Normal to Be Afraid of The Dentist? 

added on: October 7, 2022

If you’re afraid of the dentist, you may feel as if you’re alone. Rest assured, you’re far from alone. In fact, about 36% of people in the United States have fear of getting dental treatment, and some even have a legitimate phobia called dentophobia. So while knowing you’re not alone may help a little, seeing your dentist in Reston can still make you feel nervous, anxious, or simply scared. We can help. 

What Causes Dental Fear? 

There is no one cause for dental fear, and each person is different. That’s why it’s so important to communicate with your dentist in Reston about any uncertainties you may have about your upcoming appointment. However, one of the first steps to overcoming the fear of the dentist is to try and understand where that fear comes from. Some of the most common causes of dental fear are: 

  • Past Experiences 

If you’ve had a negative dental experience before, it’s more likely that you may develop dentophobia. Experiences in the past that have caused pain or discomfort, especially as a child, can cause a long-term aversion to dental care. 

  • Feeling Out of Control

We understand that sitting back in a dental chair with your mouth wide open isn’t the most comfortable thing to do. But besides that, it can make some people feel out of control and make their anxiety spike. 

  • History of Dental Fear

Patients who grew up with or have a parent, sibling, or other role model exhibiting and expressing fear of the dentist make adopt that feeling as their own. Called modeling, simply hearing someone else talk about their fear can instill fear in yourself. 

  • Embarrassment

Many patients feel embarrassed by the way their teeth look or how their breath smells and may feel anxious when a dentist or hygienist is taking a good, close look. Remember, your dentist and dental team are here to help you, not to judge you. 

How to Stop Being Afraid of The Dentist

There are many techniques available to help you actually relax in a dental office and combat your fear. Try the following tips:

  •  

    4-4-4 Breathing Technique

Used by the Navy Seals to ease anxiety, you can adopt the 4-4-4 breathing technique at your dental appointments. Start by inhaling for 4 seconds, holding that breath for another 4 seconds, exhaling for 4 seconds, and holding that exhale for another 4 seconds. Repeat as needed. 

  • Communicate

Communicating with your dentist in Reston is crucial to overcoming dental anxiety. Make sure your entire dental team knows about your concerns, symptoms, and potential triggers. The more we know, the more we can do to help keep you at ease. In fact, many dentists offer forms of sedation dentistry designed just for patients with anxiety. 

  • Music & Movies

Sometimes all you need is a good distraction in order to help you feel relaxed. Ask your dentist if you can listen to music or watch a movie during your appointments so your brain can focus on something else other than what’s going on in your mouth. 

Even though being afraid of the dentist is a completely normal thing, it can mean bad news for your oral health if you don’t maintain your appointments. Make sure you find the best dentist in Reston for you and your anxieties and keep up with appointments every six months to avoid dental problems from creeping up on you. 

We have dental offices across Northern Virginia, including in Manassas, Reston, Gainesville, Fairfax, and Herndon. Call the dentist closest to you to schedule an appointment today!