Going to the dentist for many people is just another part of their healthcare regimen. For others, however, avoidance is all too common.

If you constantly put off making a dentist appointment, you’re not alone. One in five people reports that they are afraid or don’t like going to the dentist. Even when you know that getting regular check-ups and teeth cleanings are essential, you may still dread scheduling an appointment. But, do you know why you dread this so much? What is it about going to the dentist that makes you so uneasy?

woman cradling face in shock

There can be many reasons for your dread. Identifying what those are can help you find a way to lessen the anxiety or phobia surrounding dentist appointments and, instead, make your dental health a top priority.

Reasons People Dread Going to See a Dentist

While no two people are exactly alike, many do share the same concerns when it comes to dental visits. Delaying appointments or avoiding them altogether often leads to emergency dental needs, forcing an appointment on you and often leading to pain and also financial concerns. Take a look at the reasons listed below for why people often dread a visit to the dentist and identify which ones relate to you.

  • Past experiences: If your past includes bad memories of dentist appointments and treatments, including during childhood, you may resist returning until you are in an emergency situation.
  • Associate pain with dental work: A very real fear of pain is a common reason people dread going to see a dentist. Whether you have experienced painful dental experiences in the past, heard horror stories from others, or associate poking and prodding with instruments in your mouth as pain-inducing, it can keep you away. On top of that, you may fear any anesthesia will fail to work, and the result will be more intense pain.
  • Fear of shots or injection side effects: To many, there’s nothing more terrifying than a needle coming towards them. The gums and tissues of the mouth are sensitive, and the thought of receiving a shot anywhere in there can keep you away, even if you experience a toothache at home. An additional fear is that of the side effects of the anesthesia, which may include numbness, dizziness, and nausea.
  • A feeling of helplessness or loss of control: Reclining in a dentist’s chair renders you helpless and at the mercy of the dentist. You may have experienced trauma in your life and feel a need to stay in control, and a trip to the dentist lessens your ability to do that.
  • Embarrassment: You may feel self-conscious about your teeth or mouth odors and too embarrassed to go to the dentist. You might fear they will make fun of you or belittle you in some way.
  • Invasion of your Personal Space: You may be uncomfortable with how close the dentist and hygienist need to be to examine your teeth or correct any problems you may have. Your personal space is important to you, and you avoid intrusion as much as possible.
  • Fear of Being Vulnerable: Our mouth serves as the gateway to important bodily functions, including digestion and breathing. It is a vulnerable area, and trusting someone to care for you can be difficult.
  • Passed-Down Fears: If your parents fear dental visits and express that fear in front of you, you may resist maintaining your dental health as an adult. Parents are highly influential and may negatively influence you on the need to see dentists.

Did you recognize yourself in any of these? You may experience one or all of them or something completely different. Whatever it is that is preventing you from going to the dentist, it can be overcome.

Dealing with phobias and anxieties are challenges not to be taken lightly. Finding an experienced, compassionate dentist you can talk to about these things will make all the difference in how you begin to value your dental health.

Ways to Get Past Your Dread of Going to the Dentist

Don’t give up hope. There are many ways to get past your dread and schedule regular appointments with your dentist. Making your dental health a priority can actually lessen the number of appointments you need by keeping your teeth and gums in top shape with regular exams and cleanings.

Follow these ways to get past that dread and on to better dental health:

  • Start by identifying what it is that is holding you back from making an appointment. Knowing why you dread going to the dentist can help you work past your fears and find a way to accommodate what you’re feeling.
  • Set up a get-to-know-you appointment, or initial checkup, to discuss your dread with your dentist. Explain why you avoid dentists and express any fears you may have. If you don’t like the response from the dentist and dental team, find another one. Always remember that you are in control of who works on your teeth and what procedures they do.
  • During cleanings, examinations, or treatments, establish a signal with your dental team to alert them you need a quick break or the chair returned to an upright position. Never let your anxiety slide into a full-scale panic attack.
  • Locate a dentist that offers sedation during procedures. You breathe in nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, to calm you but not put you to sleep.

Essentially, it all boils down to finding a dentist you can trust. Once that is accomplished, be kind to yourself and take it step by step.

Avoiding the dentist can result in serious troubles later on, including cavities, abscessed teeth, and various other issues. However, by scheduling biannual cleanings and exams, you can get ahead of any issues and even prevent them.

Discuss Your Concerns with the Compassionate Stiles Dental Care Today

Whatever your reasons for dreading a dentist visit, we understand and are here to help you work through them. We care about your dental health. Schedule an initial appointment to get to know us, our office, and what we offer. Our caring team will answer all your questions and do our best to make you feel comfortable. Call (609) 451-2016 today.