Dental anxiety / Dentophobia

Fear of the dental treatment or the dentist

Dental anxiety / Dentophobia

Dentophobia – or fear of dentists – is a common phobia among people of all ages. Due to unpleasant or painful experiences in the past, some patients fear going to the dentist so much that their teeth deteriorate over time without getting treatment. This causes additional pain and shame and even more fear of making the important appointment with the dentist. 

We are here to help. Our practice has special treatments for patients with fear. We are helping you step by step to overcome possible fear or shame. If neccessary we can even provide General anaesthesia (narcosis) so you can undergo even big treatments. 

Not many people associate a visit to the dentist with pleasant feelings. A certain anxiety before dental treatments such as drilling is more common. But if the fears are so strong that the very thought of a visit to the dentist causes discomfort, sweating or panic attacks, this can get in the way of a (necessary) dental appointment.

First of all you should know that you are not alone. In our practice we have treated many patients who previously suffered from dental anxiety. This fear is quite widespread and is often based on uncertainty and lack of knowledge about the course of a dental treatment. Studies have shown that about 70% of the patients have at least an unpleasant feeling when they think about going to the dentist. About 20% of them have strong to very strong fears. And 5-10% of the anxious people avoid a visit to the dentist if possible, try to delay it or do not appear at the agreed appointment.

Dental anxiety is one of the specific anxieties that can be attributed to 

  • the parties involved, in particular the dentist
  • the experiences or fears associated with dental treatment
  • the external circumstances (e.g. smell, noise, technical devices)

Like all fears, it is an unpleasant feeling that can be accompanied to a greater or lesser extent by physical phenomena (e.g. sweating, palpitations, gastrointestinal disturbances) and psychological peculiarities (e.g. ideas of pain, catastrophic thoughts). The dentist is usually only the trigger of fears, which are related to various factors of the treatment situation. Therefore, one should also speak of dental treatment fear and not of dental fear. Fear does not only arise during the treatment situation, but usually much earlier. It often increases as the time of treatment approaches, and for many people it subsides again as soon as the treatment has started. Patients then notice that the dental treatment is much less unpleasant than they feared due to the anaesthesia and modern technology.

On closer inspection it often turns out that 

  • not so much the dental treatment is feared, but the only short-term painful puncture by the anesthetic syringe or the possibility that a little blood can flow 
  • that one fears to lose self-control in the treatment situation
  • that one could be criticized for the state of care of the mouth and teeth 
  • that you find it unbearable when someone enters your mouth.

In contrast to anxiety, the main characteristic of a phobia is that an anxiety-inducing situation (here the visit to the dentist) is avoided for as long as possible and the anxiety increases as the situation is approached. A phobia should be treated separately if necessary.

The main cause of dental anxiety is negative experience with dental treatments that you had to undergo as a child. But sometimes it is only the - often dramatized - stories of relatives or friends that increase fear. During current dental visits, such experiences are then recalled and corresponding negative expectations arise. Of course, the fear can also remain or grow in the current treatment situation, if the staff is unfriendly and the dentist is impatient, criticizes the condition of the teeth in an embarrassing way and ignores one's own fears. On the other hand, the best therapy for negative experiences is the possibility to make new and better experiences. Today's dentists are psychologically better trained than their predecessors and work with gentler techniques than before.