dentist anxiety

Regular dental visits are important for maintaining healthy teeth and gums, yet dental anxiety, which is an unease about dental appointments, keeps some people from going to the dentist. Dental anxiety is a common problem, affecting as many as 36 percent of the population.

Rather than postpone visits, here’s a look at ways to cope with dental anxiety, as well as a few symptoms and causes for it.




Dental anxiety treatment and coping options

Dental anxiety can affect people of all ages. Here are several coping mechanisms to help ease your fears and get you back in the dental chair.

Communicate your concerns to your dentist

Don’t hesitate to communicate your concerns to your dentist. They can take steps to make the process easier. They can explain each step from start to finish, so you know what to expect. They can also recommend techniques to help you relax and feel more comfortable at the appointment.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you understand the procedure, you may feel less anxiety.

Breathing exercises

Deep breathing exercises can relax your mind and help you feel calmer. These exercises can reduce stress during dental appointments.

Close your eyes and slowly inhale through your nose. Hold it for a few seconds, and then slowly exhale through your mouth. Repeat this several times.

Meditation and muscle relaxation

Anxiety can worsen while sitting in the waiting room or once you climb into the dental chair. In this situation, meditation is a simple practice to reduce stress and promote calmness.

It involves a state of heightened awareness, focus, and muscle relaxation that you can achieve anywhere — even at your dentist office.

Once you’re seated, close your eyes or fix your eyes on an object, and then allow your body to completely relax. Pay attention to different parts of your body and make a conscious effort to release tension, relaxing your entire body starting with your head down to your feet.

You can meditate before and during your appointment to remain calm and focused.

Guided imagery

Another technique involves visualizing happy thoughts while sitting in the dentist chair. Go to your “happy place” and think about funny or positive past memories. Being nostalgic can help you feel happier, which can calm and relax your mind.


Hypnotherapy involves quieting the conscious mind and creating a state of calmness. This guided relaxation practice helps you achieve a trance state, at which point a hypnotherapist uses the power of suggestion to curb your anxiety. It’s important to note that a hypnotherapist cannot make you do anything that you yourself would not want to do.


Having a distraction in the dental office can also relieve anxiety. Talk with your dentist beforehand. See if you can watch TV or a movie during your appointment, or perhaps wear headphones and listen to music.

Bring a friend

The support of a relative or friend might calm your mind. Ask your dentist if someone may accompany you in the exam room. Even if you can’t talk to this person during your appointment, their presence can help you feel safe, comfortable, and relaxed.


This is a type of medication used to relieve pain. You can find these drugs over-the-counter, but they’re also used during dental appointments to provide pain relief and reduce moderate anxiety.

Dentists typically use nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas or happy gas, which is a colorless and odorless gas you breathe in before or during your procedure.

Anxiety-relieving medication

For moderate anxiety, some doctors may prescribe a short-acting anti-anxiety medication to help lessen anxiety before a dental appointment. You’ll take the medication at least one hour before your visit.

Conscious sedation

An option for moderate to severe anxiety is conscious sedation. This involves taking an oral sedative a few hours before your dental appointment, prescribed by a doctor. This isn’t general anesthesia, so you won’t be asleep during the appointment. You’ll remain conscious and responsive, but in a very relaxed state.

General anesthesia

This involves being fully asleep or unconscious during a dental procedure, and it’s an option for severe dental anxiety.

Keep in mind that general anesthesia is administered in a hospital setting by an anesthesiologist. A referral to an oral and maxillofacial facial surgeon is sometimes necessary.


easing dental anxiety
  • Symptoms of dental anxiety

How do you know if you have dental anxiety? Some people experience some level of uneasiness before a dental appointment, yet the anxiety doesn’t stop them from keeping appointments.

People living with dental anxiety, on the other hand, can experience distressing symptoms before appointments. For example:

  • heart palpitations
  • panic attacks
  • low blood pressure
  • aggressive behavior
  • extreme sweating
  • crying
  • feeling faint 

How can dental anxiety affect your dental health?  

If you’re anxious about sitting in a dentist’s chair, you might avoid appointments, or allow too much time between scheduled appointments. This can lead to oral health issues.

During regular dental appointments, a dentist can detect cavities and other oral health concerns early. Lack of professional cleanings raises the risk for gum disease and other issues like bleeding gums, loose teeth, and bad breath. 

Causes of Dental Anxiety

Common causes of dental anxiety include:

  • fear of pain
  • previous traumatic dental experiences
  • fear of loss of control
  • history of generalized anxiety disorder
  • trust issues
  • fear of needles and drilling
  • uncomfortable with an invasion of personal space
  • fear of anesthesia side effects
  • fear of anesthesia not working

Talk To Us

Dental anxiety can affect children and adults, but you can cope with this anxiety and should keep regular appointments. Speak with your dentist and discuss possible techniques to help you feel relaxed. Watching TV, bringing a friend, and even alternative therapies like hypnosis might calm your nerves, allowing you to get through appointments with less fear.

We understand how daunting visiting the dentist can be and go out of our way to make sure that you feel comfortable and safe!


To book an appointment or find out more, call Morgan Street Dental Centre today on 02 69219500!