Coping with Dental Anxiety

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Patients should also ask office staff about any recommended coping strategies and agree on a signal to let the dentist know if they need to take a break.

Mindfulness Techniques

Patients may want to try breathing exercises or doing body scans while in the dentist's chair. Others may benefit from distracting themselves by doing things like wearing headphones or occupying their hands.

Children & Dental Anxiety

Parents should maintain a calm exterior as children will pick up on any anxiety displayed by their parents. Dentists have received the training to give simple, non-threatening answers.

Kid being sedated at dentist


Dental Anxiety

Solutions to dental anxiety come in many forms. When left untreated, many dental problems only get worse. We can help empower patients with dental anxiety to take the necessary action to treat their underlying conditions.
Dental anxiety, also known as dental phobia, is a condition in which patients have a debilitating fear of the dentist. People with dental anxiety are aware that their fear is irrational, but have little to no means of managing it. They may be so panic-stricken by the prospect of seeing the dentist that they will only go when forced by extreme pain. Other common signs of dental anxiety include:

    Escalating feelings of nervousness in a dentist’s waiting room.
    Feelings of intense unease at the thought of a dentist placing objects in the mouth during treatment.
    Physical reactions at the thought of visiting the dentist.
    Trouble sleeping the night before a dental appointment.

Solutions to dental anxiety are available at Hatcher Dental Studio in Phoenix and the surrounding area. Fear should never get in the way of your health.


Sedation & Dental Anxiety

Some patients with more severe dental anxiety may require more intensive management measures. These include:


Relative Analgesia

Also known as “laughing gas,” relative analgesia consists of patients receiving a combination of oxygen and nitrous oxide through a mask fitted to their face. This treatment is quick to take effect and also quick to wear off. Patients remain awake but feel relaxed during the procedure.


Anxiety Medication

Typically, anxiety medication for dental anxiety comes in the form of a pill. It may be prescribed either by a dentist or a doctor. The patient will take a single, short-acting dose about one hour before their dental appointment.


Conscious Sedation

Conscious sedation is a form of intravenous (IV) sedation administered either by a sedation dentist or an anesthetist. Patients under conscious sedation may drift off into a light sleep, making this known as “twilight sedation.”


General Anesthesia

General anesthesia is the most intensive form of sedation, administered through a combination of IV medication and inhaled gases. Patients are put fully to sleep and will require pre- and post-operative visits.

Not all forms of sedation are appropriate for everyone or every dental procedure. Our qualified team works closely with our patients to take the proper measures to provide the most comfortable experience possible.

woman worried at dentist appointment


FAQ's Dental Anxiety

  • What can a dentist do to help my child's dental anxiety?

    Dental anxiety among children is common, so many dentists anticipate having to use calming techniques. These include distraction, non-verbal communication, simple instructions, positive reinforcement, voice control, and, in some cases, sedation.

  • How common is dental anxiety?

    According to WebMD, between 9% and 20% of Americans avoid going to the dentist due to dental anxiety. People of all ages and backgrounds can suffer from dental anxiety.

  • Are there any other words for dental anxiety?

    The term "dental anxiety" is most commonly interchanged with "dental phobia." However, other synonymous terms include dentophobia, dental fear, fear of dentists, and odontophobia. These words all refer to the same phenomenon.

  • Do I really need to go to the dentist if I have dental anxiety?

    Putting off necessary dental treatments can be detrimental to your overall health. Patients who refrain from going to the dentist due to dental anxiety are more likely to develop gum disease and lose teeth. These, in turn, may lead to a decrease in self-esteem and negatively affect one's overall quality of life.

  • Will my dental anxiety get better over time?

    Continued exposure and positive experiences with the dentist should lessen your dental anxiety over time. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may also benefit from seeking psychiatric help for your phobia at another facility, along with dental treatment tailored to your needs.