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Overcoming Fear of the Dentist as an Adult

Overcoming Fear Of The Dentist As An Adult

Do you feel anxious when you think about going to the dentist? You’re not alone. According to a survey by the American Association of Endodontists, nearly 80% of adult Americans experience some fear of dental treatment.

More than half of that number say their anxiety will keep them from seeing a dentist as regularly as they should, and another 10% are so afraid that they will avoid dental care at all costs — these people are referred to as dental phobics.

We’re used to consoling kids about routine medical treatment. Programs like our Kids Club even offer them rewards for coming into the clinic and being brave in the face of anxiety. But what about adults?

We know you probably need more than a sticker or “bravery certificate” to feel comfortable at the dentist office. It helps to start with the underlying causes of the anxiety.


What causes fear of the dentist?

Many adults experience similar unease about dental treatment, but for different reasons. Here are some of the most common:

  • Fear of pain
    Regular cleanings shouldn’t be painful, but many dental treatments have a bad rap for causing discomfort. It’s normal to feel anxious about experiencing pain, especially if you don’t know what to expect.
  • Loss of control
    Many people are uncomfortable with feelings of helplessness they experience during treatment. It can be difficult to lay down, stay still, and not be able to see exactly what’s going on.
  • Embarrassment
    Some people, especially those who haven’t been to the dentist in the while, are nervous that their providers will judge them for the state of their teeth or the anxiety they experience while in the chair.
  • Fear of cost
    Depending on insurance, dental care can be expensive. Worries about the cost of procedures often keep people from seeking treatment, causing problems to worsen.


How can you overcome fear of the dentist?

The best way to work through dental anxiety is to know exactly what to expect beforehand. Finding a great team — and communicating with them openly — can make all the difference.

Look for a dentist who is calm, caring, and confident. It’s important to find someone who makes you feel like an equal partner in your healthcare and not a helpless patient.

At Madison Family Dental, we have seven general dentists to choose from who all have different personalities — and who all have the skills to provide expert care. Having the freedom to choose the provider best suited to you can minimize any anxiety you feel before treatments.

If you’re comfortable with your care team, you won’t be afraid to be open with them. Ask questions about your procedure details, cost, and aftercare up front. Being informed can help you feel more in control, and you can discuss any points of nervousness early on before they become in-the-moment issues.

You can even come up with a signal to let your providers know you’re uncomfortable at any time during your treatment. After all, dental care is about you — and you deserve to be comfortable the whole while!

While being afraid of the dentist is common, it’s not necessary to feel stressed out before every appointment. The right team will keep you informed and listen to your concerns the entire time.

At Madison Family Dental, we’re not here to judge — we’re here to help you have the healthiest smile possible with the greatest level of comfort. You deserve thoughtful, comprehensive care from a team of experts who can ease your dental worries.



Dental Fear Central

Consumer Guide to Dentistry

Oral Health Foundation

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