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All About Dental Fear

The who, what, and why of dental fear

Who has dental fear?

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Dental fear is extremely common. 1 in 5 (over 53 million Americans) who go to the dentist deal with moderate to severe dental fear.

Dental Equipment
Young beautiful woman wearing casual t-shirt standing over isolated white background looki

What does Dental Fear look like?

  • Fear of the dentist can show up in 

    • ​What you do (like avoiding the dentist)

    • What you think (expecting the dentist will not listen, worrying about pain or smells, feeling embarrassed)

    • What you feel (heart racing, shallow breathing, sweating, feeling lightheaded).      

  • Symptoms of dental fear are often not visible, so it is important for dentists to check in with their patients.              

Dentist working in Patient's mouth
  • Bad experiences with dentists or doctors (or hearing about bad experiences from family/friends) convince a lot of people to fear going to the dentist.

  • People who feel anxious a lot are more likely to feel that way at the dentist. 

  • People who have had traumatic experiences (e.g., sexual assault) or other mental health difficulties are more likely to have dental fear. 

Many fearful adults have suffered from dental fear since childhood. 

Why are people afraid of the dentist?

The Vicious Cycle

It's common for people to dread the dentist and become convinced that their visit will be awful. Often it takes a real emergency for them to go to the dentist.


Unfortunately, it's at these emergency appointments that their negative fears are confirmed. This can create a vicious cycle of avoidance and pain.

Graphic showing the cycle of dental fear

What can I do about it?

Here’s the good news!

Our team has developed an easy and accessible way to get people effective treatment. The best part is our intervention is entirely virtual — you can do it anytime, anywhere.

Happy Doctor
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