How to Overcome Your Fear of the Dentist

close up scared eyes

Are you one of the millions of Americans who fear visiting the dentist? If so, you are not alone — studies have shown that up to 75 percent of adults have some fear of the dentist, while up to 10 percent have an overwhelming fear that can cause them to avoid dental care altogether.

In fact, overwhelming fear of the dentist is so common that it has a name, odontophobia, which is taken from the Greek odonto, meaning teeth, and phobia, or fear.

Odontophobia is nothing to be ashamed of. It can be a serious condition that prevents you from getting the dental care you need to maintain an attractive, healthy smile.

Fortunately, there are a number of strategies you can use to help overcome fear of the dentist. Here are seven that have been proven to work:


Be aware that fear of the dentist is both perfectly common and nothing to be ashamed of. The first step of dealing with your fear is to accept it. Write down exactly what your fears are, or what may have triggered them: For instance, have you had a bad experience with a dentist in the past? Was a particular procedure more traumatic or painful than expected? Determining the root cause of your fear can play a key role in learning to cope with it.

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing or progressive muscle relaxation – concentrating on relaxing one muscle at a time, starting with your toes and progressing upward – can provide both relaxation and a welcome distraction.

Educate Yourself

Quite often fear is triggered by the unknown. Take the time to learn about the tools, methods, and procedures that you will need to undergo in advance of your appointment. We are happy to answer any questions you have, and we will take the time to discuss in detail any procedure, method or instrument that will be used as part of your care.

Guru Patient Education

Patient education is an important part of our dental practice. We want patients to feel comfortable and fully informed about any procedure before it is performed. To aid in this goal, we offer Guru Education Software. This innovative program provides a visual, comprehensive, informative walkthrough of your treatment or procedure. Each learning session is personalized for you to provide information specific to you and your treatment. Guru is a simple, interactive, informative way to learn about your dental care.

Communicate with the Dentist

As your trusted dentist, we have a responsibility to ensure that you receive the best care possible. Communication is key to providing that care. Please feel free to discuss any concerns or anxieties you have concerning your care. We will work with you to help you overcome your fear and to make sure you are as comfortable, informed, and prepared for your procedure as possible. Remember, your care is our first priority.

The team at Vann Family Dental are dedicated to providing gentle, compassionate dental care to your family. We offer complete dental care including routine, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry. From pediatric dentistry to dentures, cosmetic dentistry to emergency dental care, we offer a full spectrum of dental care options for your entire family.

We care about your comfort!

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