Written by the Dental Fear Central Web Team
Last updated on July 2, 2020
Common Dental Fears
Most people who suffer with dental phobia or anxiety don’t realise that many others feel (or used to feel) the same way. It can be helpful to know that you’re by no means the only one with this problem!
In this section, you can:
Find out more about dental phobia, dental fear and dental anxiety
What is Dental Phobia, Fear and Anxiety? – definitions, causes and prevalence.
Find out where to start
Dental Fears – The Basics: This is a good starting point if you’re terrified of everything to do with dentists. Get help with identifying your fears, and have a look at our useful downloads.
Find out about some common dental fears and get tips for tackling them
Embarrassment: “My teeth are the worst the dentist has ever seen. I feel guilty, ashamed, and scared of ‘The Lecture’. I’m worried that the dentist will berate me, humiliate me, or judge me.”
The Dentist: “I’m terrified of the dentist!”
Lack of Control: “I fear the overwhelming loss of control in the dental chair. I’m petrified of the dentist doing things to me and having little or no say in the matter. I’m scared of not knowing what’s going on or what to expect.”
Pain: “Dentistry is simply too painful, I can’t handle that amount of pain. Going there is not safe.”
Painful Injections or Needle Phobia: “I’m petrified of dental injections – they hurt!”. “I have a phobia of needles, the thought or sight of them terrifies me.”
Not Getting Numb: “Dentists have failed to get me numb in the past. I’m scared it will happen again.”
Sights, Sounds and Smells: “It’s the whole environment that gives me the creeps!”
The Drill: “I feel faint and sick to the stomach just thinking about the sound of the drill.”
Gagging: “I have a really strong gag reflex. It makes x-rays and dental procedures a total nightmare.”
Choking: “I’m terrified of choking, not getting any air, or being unable to swallow. I’m worried that I might die.”
Unnecessary Treatment: “I’m scared that the dentist will carry out unnecessary treatment.”
Needing Lots of Treatment: “I don’t think I’ll be able to cope with the bad news.” “I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to keep my teeth. I’m also worried about not having teeth and others seeing me like that.”
Feeling Numb: “The feeling of numbness makes me panic!” “I’m worried I won’t be able to breathe when I’m numb.”
Bad reaction to local anaesthetics: “I have a bad reaction or an allergy to the numbing injection.”
Fainting during Injections: “I faint at the sight of needles, or when having an injection.” (Blood-Injection-Injury Phobia)
Crying or Making a Fool of Yourself: “I’m going to pass out the minute I walk through the door. I’ll be panicking, crying, or shaking uncontrollably.”
Fear of Panic Attacks: “I’m scared of having a panic attack while in the dental chair, and what that might do to me.”
Cost of Dental Treatment: “Even if I managed to see a dentist, I wouldn’t be able to afford dental treatment.”
Being Awake: “I’m terrified of knowing what’s going on – I’d much rather not know!”
Find out about dental phobia relating to sexual, physical, or emotional abuse
Tips for Abuse Survivors and Their Dentists: This article, written by an abuse survivor, provides practical tips for dentists and survivors for making dental visits more bearable. It also contains links to useful resources.
Problems with Brushing Teeth and Toothbrush Phobia: Lack of motivation, being scared of seeing one’s teeth, having given up because it’s “too late anyway”, toothpaste phobia, and a sensitive gag reflex – these are all reasons why people may find it almost impossible to brush their teeth. Here you can find tips for dealing with these problems.
Special Needs: Find out about services for people with special needs (including dental phobia) in the UK