Dental phobia, also known as dentophobia, is a surprisingly common fear, affecting millions and causing anxiety, sweating, racing hearts, or even panic attacks at the mere thought of a dental visit. If you’re one of those who dread the dentist’s chair, you’re not alone.  

Anxious child at the dentist’s mouth is closed

However, avoiding dental care can have severe consequences for your oral health. The good news is that there are effective strategies to manage your dental phobia and transform those dreaded appointments into positive experiences.   

Read on to discover expert tips for conquering your dental fears and achieving a healthy smile, both now and in the future. 

Communication Is Key 

Are you feeling nervous about your next dental visit? It’s normal. Lots of people get stressed about the dentist. The good news is that letting your dentist know can make a big difference. When they understand your worries, they can work with you to create a comfortable plan.   

Below are some steps to enhance communication and ease your experience: 

  • Discuss your fears in detail: Sometimes, the dentist’s office can feel overwhelming. Maybe it’s the sounds, or not feeling quite in control, or even just general anxiety. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to talk to your dentist. They’ve heard it all and can work with you. Let them know what makes you most worried, and they can help make your visit a breeze. After all, a healthy smile starts with feeling comfortable. 
  • Talk about sedation options: In some cases, if your anxiety is severe, your dentist might recommend sedation techniques like nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or oral medication to help you relax during the procedure. It’s important to discuss the pros and cons of IV sedation vs. general aneasthesia with your dentist to determine the most suitable option for you. 
  • Develop a signal system: Agree on a hand gesture or a word that you can use to communicate discomfort or a need for a break during the procedure. 

By openly communicating with your dentist, you can establish a trusting relationship that will make dental visits less stressful. 

The girl is afraid of the dentist. Close up view.

Relaxation Techniques For The Win 

Calming your nerves before and during a dental appointment can significantly improve your experience.  

Here are some relaxation techniques that can help: 

  • Deep breathing exercises: Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Breathe slowly through your nose, feeling your belly rise with each inhale. Let the air out slowly through your mouth, like you’re sighing out tension. This will help calm your heart rate and ease those anxious feelings. 
  • Progressive muscle relaxation: Close your eyes and focus on different body parts. Start with your shoulders—scrunch them up tight for a few seconds, then let them completely relax. Feel the difference? Repeat with other areas that tend to hold tension, like your neck, jaw, or hands. You might be surprised how much better you feel. 
  • Guided imagery: Imagine yourself somewhere relaxing. It could be a beach with calming waves, a cozy reading nook at home, or even a favorite park bench. Picturing yourself in a peaceful place can take your mind off the dental environment.  
  • Listen to calming music: To help tune out some of the sounds at the dentist’s office, consider bringing your headphones and creating a calming playlist beforehand. Familiar music or something nature-focused can help you relax during a dental appointment. 

Practicing these techniques regularly, not just before dental appointments, can help you manage anxiety in other areas of your life as well. 

Building A Positive Dental Routine 

Caring for your teeth at home is essential to maintaining dental health and can significantly lessen anxiety at the dentist’s office. Many people used to be nervous in the chair, but once they got into a good routine of brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash, cleaning felt less stressful. It might sound simple, but it helped. 

Here are some tips for establishing a positive dental routine: 

  • Brush your teeth twice daily and floss daily: You know that feeling of dread right before a dentist appointment? Brushing and flossing regularly can help reduce that anxiety. Taking good care of your teeth at home means there’s a lower chance you’ll need anything more than a routine cleaning, which is way less intense (and scary) than more involved procedures. 
  • Schedule regular checkups: Regular cleanings and checkups can help identify and address potential problems early when they’re easier and less expensive to treat. 
  • Focus on the benefits: Remind yourself that prioritizing your oral health will prevent future problems and improve your overall well-being. 

Establishing a positive dental routine can break the cycle of fear and avoidance and lead to a healthier relationship with your dentist. 


Overcoming dental phobia is achievable with the right strategies and mindset. By fostering open communication with your dentist, employing relaxation techniques, and maintaining a positive dental routine, you can transform your dental visits from fearful experiences into comfortable, manageable ones. Remember, taking proactive steps ensures your oral health and builds confidence in your dental care journey, making each visit easier than the last. 

Categories: Health

Nicolas Desjardins

Hello everyone, I am the main writer for SIND Canada. I've been writing articles for more than 12 years and I like sharing my knowledge. I'm currently writing for many websites and newspapers. I always keep myself very informed to give you the best information. All my years as a computer scientist made me become an incredible researcher. You can contact me on our forum or by email at [email protected].