How Can You Alleviate Dental Anxiety?

May 01, 2023

What Is Dental Anxiety?

It is a condition that causes people to feel anxious or fearful about visiting the dentist.

What Causes Dental Anxiety?

Different factors can contribute to dental anxiety, including:

  1. Previous bad experiences: Negative experiences in the past revolving around high pain levels during a dental procedure can cause anxiety and fear about future visits.
  2. Fear of pain: The fear of experiencing pain during a dental procedure is a common cause of dental anxiety.
  3. Loss of control: Some people may feel a loss of control or extreme vulnerability when sitting in the dentist’s chair, which can trigger anxiety.
  4. Embarrassment: People who are self-conscious about their teeth’ appearance or have bad breath may feel embarrassed about dental visits, leading to anxiety.
  5. Fear of needles or injections: The sight of needles or the thought of receiving an injection can cause anxiety in many people.
  6. Claustrophobia is a fear of being in a small, enclosed space during dental procedures, such as X-rays.
  7. General anxiety disorder: People with general anxiety disorders or mental illnesses can feel anxious or fearful in many situations, including dental visits.

How Does Dental Anxiety Manifest?

The symptoms of dental anxiety can range from mild discomfort to severe panic attacks. Some of the most common manifestations of dental anxiety include:

  1. Physical symptoms include rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling, nausea, and shortness of breath.
  2. Avoidance behavior – increased need to cancel, reschedule, or avoid dental appointments at the last minute.
  3. Difficulty sleeping: An upcoming dental appointment may cause difficulty sleeping or staying asleep.
  4. Irritability or mood swings – or a general feeling of unease as the date of the dental appointment approaches.
  5. Overwhelming fear – can even feature panic attacks when faced with the prospect of a dental procedure.
  6. Difficulty sitting still: If you cannot sit still in the dental chair, it is easier for the dentist near you to perform the necessary procedures.

How Do Dentists Manage Dental Anxiety?

When you visit a dentist in Alexandria, VA, for any dental treatment, ensure you bring up your issue with dental anxiety. Your dentist can work with you to find strategies to help manage your anxiety and make your dental visits more comfortable. Usually, dentists employ two major techniques to manage dental anxiety in dentistry:

  1. Local anesthesia – it numbs your mouth before any dental treatment. Therefore, regardless of how uncomfortable or painful the treatment is, you will not feel it.
  2. Sedation dentistry – employs sedative medication that will calm your mind and body so you can sit still and relax during your treatment. Through sedation dentistry, a dentist near you will ensure you are calmly conscious or unconscious during treatment. At Burton Dentistry, our dentists employ deep sedation for long and invasive treatments like surgeries. However, you will need mild or moderate sedation for ordinary dental treatments.

Other Tips to Alleviate Dental Anxiety

​As you plan to visit a dental clinic in Fort Hunt for treatment, consider the following pointers to help you alleviate and manage dental anxiety:

  1. Please communicate with your dentist beforehand: Let your dentist know that you experience dental anxiety so (s)he can work with you to find strategies to help manage your anxiety and make your dental visits more comfortable.
  2. Practice relaxation techniques – such as deep breathing, visualization, and progressive muscle relaxation. Practice these techniques before and during your dental appointment.
  3. Bring your support system: A trusted friend or family member will provide emotional support and help you feel more comfortable during your dental appointment.
  4. Use distractions: Listening to calming music or a podcast through headphones during your appointment can help distract you from dental procedures.
  5. Schedule appointments at a time when you are most relaxed and have the least stress.
  6. Take care of your teeth at home: Maintaining good oral hygiene at home can reduce the need for invasive dental procedures, which can help alleviate dental anxiety.


Remember, dental anxiety is common and nothing to be ashamed of. If you have dental anxiety, do not hesitate to communicate your concerns with your dentist. (S)he can help you feel more comfortable and at ease during your visit.

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