Being fearful of something is part of what makes us human. From tall heights to deep water, phobias come in all shapes and sizes. But what happens if what you’re scared of results in a full-blown anxiety attack? For people that suffer from dentophobia (also referred to as odontophobia), something as simple as a routine teeth cleaning can cause severe anxiety. The simple mention of a visit to the dentist can trigger anxious feelings and reactions.

For those suffering from dentophobia, there are things you can do to make the experience a little more tolerable. Working with a dentist for anxiety-ridden patients can help, as well as utilizing self-directed therapy. Learn more below about how to be more relaxed on your next trip to the dentist.


What is Dentophobia?

While the terms “fear” and “phobia” are commonly used interchangeably, they are actually quite different. While fear can be described as to dislike something so much you avoid it, phobia is a much stronger emotion. Phobias are considered to be a type of anxiety disorder and can cause strong reactions such as extreme distress. People that suffer from dentophobia or a fear of the dentist, can suffer from nightmares, panic attacks and avoidance of scheduling/attending appointments.

What Causes A Fear of the Dentist?

In many cases, dentophobia can stem from a negative experience at the dentist as a child. With all of the scary looking tools and loud sounds, it’s easy for children or young adults to have their thoughts wander to the worst case scenario. Or, an experience consisting of pain, lack of empathy or discomfort can also affect how a person feels about going to the dentist in the future. 

How Can Dentophobia be Treated?

There are several ways patients can conquer their fears of going to the dentist. First, try breaking up any dental work into multiple visits. If you need to get a cavity filled and a cleaning, break up the procedures into two appointments if possible. This will give you time to heal and mentally prepare between visits. Meeting with a sedation dentist to discuss ways to make your visit more comfortable is a good idea as well.

If you have a severe case of dentophobia, you may need to work with a therapist who can provide a combination of medications and therapies. Ultimately, dentophobia can be tied to an anxiety disorder that may need more intensive treatment.


Maintaining good oral health is a critical part of your wellness as a whole. It’s important to keep this in mind even if you suffer from dentophobia. Through different types of treatments and self-guided therapy, it is possible to manage and even get rid of your fear of the dentist.