Is Dental Fear Real?

Male patient sitting in dental chair, looking very anxious and frightened, surrounded by two female nurses

Many people avoid going to the dentist out of fear for what may happen.This fear can range from the level of minor anxiety to dental phobia. Those wild mild anxiety may still be able to drag themselves begrudgingly to the dentist, while those suffering from dental phobia have a much harder time. Dental phobia, or odontophobia, is an intense, unreasonable fear of the dentist and dental procedures. People who have this phobia will avoid visiting the dentist at all costs, despite extreme pain and/or tooth decay.


Did You Know?

In the United States alone, it has been estimated that approximately nine to fifteen percent of Americans avoid the dentist due to anxiety and fear.


Often times, fear stems from the uncertainty of certain situations. While this may not always be the case, knowing what to expect can help reduce anxiety about dental visits.


Frequently Asked Questions:


Will it hurt?

Most dental procedures are painless, however there are some that can cause discomfort. In these rare cases, your dentist will use a numbing agent to ensure that you do not feel anything. They may also prescribe you pain medication for after the procedure to keep you comfortable. Even if the procedure causes discomfort, it often fades quickly and is preferable to being in pain on a daily basis.


What are those things in the dentist’s Office?

Although most dental procedures are painless, the tools dentists use can look a little intimidating. However, it is important to note that each tool has a very specific function and is essential in providing you the best dental care. If you have questions about what a tool does, feel free to ask your dentist.


How can I choose a good dentist?

It’s very important that you choose the dentist that is right for your needs. Beyond finding a licensed dentist, you also want to make sure you find one that makes you feel comfortable. Don’t be afraid to shop around for the perfect dentist. You may want to consider things such as: location, payment options, their ability to have conversations with you, and the friendliness of the office staff. You can also ask family and friend for referrals.


When I go to the dentist, I feel like I have no control. How can I feel more in control?

Part of choosing the right dentist is finding someone who will willingly answer all your questions. If you are worried about losing control, don’t be afraid to ask questions so that you know what will happen during the appointment. The right dentist will take the time to answer all your questions so that you can feel more comfortable during the procedure.


I don’t like the sights or sounds of the dentist’s office. How can I overcome this?

As mentioned before, some of the tools may look intimidating, but they each serve a specific purpose. If you don’t like looking at them, you can request that the tools not be left out until the time of your procedure. At that point, you can ask your dentist which tools they will be using and how they will use them. When the sounds bother you, try bringing headphones with your favorite music or podcast. While waiting, or even during the procedure, listen to your headphones, close your eyes, and focus on that.


Despite suffering from dental anxiety or phobia, it is very important to visit the dentist at least once every six months. The longer you wait between visits, the more likely you are to develop an issue requiring more extensive treatment. Most dentists realize that many people are uncomfortable and if you let the staff know they should accommodate your needs. Together, you and your dentist can help alleviate your dental anxiety.


Alireza Movassaghi, D.D.S and Other Dentist Dr. Alireza Movassaghi brings 30 years of experience to the practice at Alvarado Family Dental Center. As a graduate of the USC School of Dentistry, he works tirelessly to expand access to dental care throughout the Los Angeles area. Along with his passion for expert dental care, he exhibits a love of soccer and beautiful cars.
Skip to content