5 Natural Ways to Cope with Dental Anxiety

If you’re afraid of the dentist, don’t worry. You’re one of three people in the US who has dental anxiety. It’s an uncomfortable phobia to have because it prevents some people from getting the dental care they need. So, don’t let dental anxiety and phobia win. Read these useful tips to help you conquer your fear of the dentist and sit in that chair comfortably.


What Is Dental Anxiety and Phobia?

Dental phobia is more severe than dental anxiety. Dental phobia is an irrational fear of the dentist, of dental treatments, or anything to do with teeth. A lot of people with dental phobia won’t go to the dentist.

If you have trouble sleeping at night before a dental appointment, if you’re crying or physically ill at the thought of the dentist, or you feel unbearable nervousness in the waiting room, you may have a dental phobia.

Dental anxiety is much milder, but still a serious condition. If you have dental anxiety, you’re probably afraid of dental procedures, nervous in the waiting room, and hesitant to make dental appointments. It’s a common fear, but you need to overcome it to access the necessary oral health care you need.

What Causes Dental Anxiety?

Understanding what causes your dental anxiety can help you overcome it. Identify why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling about dentists to accurately diagnose your problem with dental visits. And you can talk about these fears and describe them better if you understand them.

Most Common Causes for Dental Anxiety and Fear:

  • Pain: Everybody’s afraid of pain. But, one painful experience at the dentist can trigger dental anxiety. Dental “horror stories” don’t help you calm down either. Fortunately, thanks to advancements in technology, most dental procedures are painless or largely pain-free.
  • Helplessness: Feeling lost or helpless during a dental procedure is a common cause of dental anxiety. The inability to see what’s going on or intervene is definitely frustrating.
  • Anesthetics: Some people don’t even like the thought of being put under for a major procedure. Others hate the numb feeling of the local anesthetics. If you’re afraid of pain, you may even be afraid that the anesthetics don’t work.
  • Injections: Fear of needles is a usual phobia. Needles going in your mouth can be an alarming thought.
  • Loss of personal space: It’s true, the dentist needs to get up close and personal to examine your teeth. Some people feel embarrassed by their physical closeness. And some are very conscious about their appearance, the look of their teeth, or their mouth odor.

5 Natural Ways to Cope with Dental Anxiety and Fear

You don’t need to pop a Xanax to alleviate dental anxiety. You can use natural coping mechanisms to get over your fear of the dentist. These 5 tips can help you overcome your fears and access the oral healthcare you need.

1. Speak to a Dentist

As ironic as it is, speaking to a dentist about your fear of the dentist helps a lot. Every dentist should care about their patient’s mental wellbeing, as well as their oral one. Speaking to them about your fears can show you that they’re caring professionals who only want the best for you.

However, it also helps to get your concerns off your chest. 

If the dentist and the dental staff know of your fears, they’ll do everything they can to accommodate you. 

How to Discuss Your Dental Anxiety:

  • Tell the dentist or receptionist about your dental anxiety when you book your appointment. Inform them again when you get to the dental practice.
  • Specific information about your fears helps the dentist understand. Tell them about previous bad experiences and possible causes for your dental anxiety.
  • Feel free to ask questions. Ask about coping strategies and details about the procedure. Knowing what happens may put you at ease and give you a sense of control.
  • Agree on a signal to let your dentist know that you need a break. 
  • Don’t be afraid to tell the dentist about any pain you feel. A lot of patients avoid saying that they need more anesthetics and suffer through a painful procedure because they don’t want to disturb the dentist.

2. Keep Up Your Dental Hygiene Routine

While this tip doesn’t help you cope with dental anxiety directly, it definitely helps you avoid the dentist. If you commit to a regular dental hygiene routine, the chances of you needing a major procedure are lower.

You’ll still need regular dental exams and cleanings as part of your preventive care. But, these are painless and quick procedures. That means you can be out of the dentist’s chair quickly.

Brush your teeth, floss, scrape your tongue, and use mouthwash twice every day for healthy teeth and a happy mouth. But, don’t brush too hard. And be sure to give up bad habits that destroy your teeth.

3. Exercise

It’s important to realize that dental anxiety is a chemical reaction in your brain. When your body goes into fight or flight mode, your body releases a hormone called cortisol to deal with the stress. However, you also have the power to release positive hormones that lower your stress levels.

Exercising regularly can help you cope with stress and anxiety. Going for a run before your dental appointment will release endorphins in your brain. These are happy hormones that will calm you down before a dental appointment.

4. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness techniques can help if you have dental anxiety. You can clear your mind and prepare yourself mentally and emotionally with meditation. And breath exercises can help you relax your tense muscles.

5. Listen to Music

If all of the above fails and you still have considerable dental anxiety, consider distracting yourself. Put in your earphones and listen to music you like to calm you down. Alternatively, a funny audiobook can also take your mind off your fear of the dentist.

Don’t Let Your Dental Bills Cause You Anxiety

Dental anxiety is real, and you shouldn’t suffer from it. Most importantly, your oral health shouldn’t suffer from it either. Going to the dentist regularly is crucial, and anything you do that helps with that is good. But, there’s one final cause of dental anxiety we haven’t talked about:

The fear of the dental bill.

Dental treatments are expensive. And a lot of people avoid going to the dentist because of the cost. Even if they aren’t afraid of the procedures, they want to protect their wallet. 

With a Carefree Dental Card, you won’t have to choose between your wallet and your dental health. Members can save 15% - 50%* per visit in most instances at participating dentists.

Conquer your fear of the dental bill and sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today!


The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

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