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What makes you most anxious about the dentist?



Former Member
Just wondering what you guys find most terrifying about going to the dentist? Like is it the fear of pain or just actually being in the dentist's surgery itself?

For me I haven't been in so long because of my fear of actually walking in and sitting on the chair, I think if I didn't have to go to the dentist to get check ups it would help me so much, like just for someone to look at my teeth at home or something and tell me what was the problem is all I'd want at the first stage..

Also if I definitely knew it would just be a check up and no chances of getting work done I wouldn't be so anxious. Is it just me? What do you guys think?
For me even though I been to the dentist lots of time in the past for checkups, treatment etc

I still get anxious the unknown, and being judge still
Hi welcome to the forum.

The first visit will just be a check up with no treatment given. They like to have a look at your teeth with just a mirror if you ask them not to use the probe (pokey tool). They also like to take an x ray so that they can see what is happening under the gums. If you cannot face the x ray then they can do that later. They will then advise you on what treatment you will be needing and discuss with you the best way to get it done. Only agree to the amounts of work you feel you can cope with in one visit when you return.

Always remember you are in charge and have to CONSENT to all and any treatment they won't force you to do something that you don't want to do. Explain how you feel and how nervous and stressed out you feel when going and they can help you with that. You can build up a trust with the dentist very quickly. If you feel that they aren't listening or make you feel uncomfortable in any way leave and find another dentist.

The trick is to find the right dentist for you, one that will put you at ease. :butterfly:
I hate the Drill.:rolleyes:
All of my history of dental treatment since my adult teeth grew in when I was 5/6 years old.
I'm now 47.
I could be typing for hours if I told you all that has made/makes me anxious/phobic.
My fears center around gagging/vomiting, impressions, too much stuff in my mouth and the unknown. If I know what to expect it helps a bit. I also despise lying so flat that my head if lower than my feet.

Strangely enough I don't fear needles, pain, the drill.
My fears center around gagging/vomiting, impressions, too much stuff in my mouth and the unknown. If I know what to expect it helps a bit. I also despise lying so flat that my head if lower than my feet.

Strangely enough I don't fear needles, pain, the drill.

Once I am in there I have never feared needles and injections as I believed they would help and stop any pain.
They have only ever stopped pain when I spoke up this time around with a new dentist after not visiting a dentist for er....12 years?
New dentist listened to me. He now checks and prods around and if I can feel the slightest anything I tell him and he sorts it.
If i havent gone for a while just about everything. :(
Or fear of what Id be finding out..
I've had 19 root canals and 12 or maybe 13 extractions, so suffered from far too much dental work before I finally said, "Enough is enough!" about 10 years ago. The thing that I hate most, is dentists touching my teeth! I hate it when they take that hook and pull and yank at the teeth to see how solid (or soft) they are and the worst, in my opinion, is when they use the back end of the instrument to "tap" the teeth to see if they hurt!

Another thing that I fear about dentists is their inability to believe to me. I have a history of being unable to be frozen properly, and have had many occasions where the anaesthetic wears off before the procedure is finished (great fun having stitches put in when you're no longer frozen, and when root canal deep work is done, you really should be frozen for at least an hour afterward, so that the tissues have a chance to heal before the anaesthetic wears off). I can't tell you how many dental practitioners just don't listen, and believe that THEY can do it right and that I really don't need a longer block when they're in charge and can do it better than their colleagues. GRRRRRRR!
Hello There :)

I would have to say the pain involved in the treatments.

Best wishes,
Please be aware that I am carefully reading all of these posts to broaden my understanding of triggers for anxious patients.
This is an interesting question I think :) I'm someone who's anxiety never came about as a result of a bad experience or anything like that so I do find it fascinating to see why others are scared like me!

for me, I hate the waiting room as I find it hard to bottle my emotions up! The wait is a bit nerve wracking! I also dislike the smell, the prospect of being numb or injected with a needle and also laying on my back! I'm a big control freak so fear of the unknown is also a problem for me!
This isn't an easy question for me to answer, since my dental anxiety is pretty generalized; I usually get knots in my stomach prior to an appointment not from fear of one particular thing, but of the experience in general. It's hard to put a finger on where the fear is coming from, especially because I don't have a history of traumatic dental visits. When I finally started going back to the dentist earlier this year, my fear was of the unknown, of how horrible my teeth must be (turns out they weren't). Now though, after mulling over this question, I think my biggest fear is of the lack of control, of lying in a vulnerable position while a stranger enters my personal space and does things to my mouth that I can't see. I think that's my main fear, but everything else about the experience adds to it to a lesser degree (the instruments, the needle, the sounds, smells and tastes, etc.). At the same time though, I honestly feel like, during the 18 years I avoided the dentist, I conditioned myself to fear it for no particular reason really, and I'm now very slowly re-conditioning myself every time I have a good dental appointment. But isn't that what we're all trying to do? ;)
Please be aware that I am carefully reading all of these posts to broaden my understanding of triggers for anxious patients.
Hi and thank you fo much for posting this. It's really good to know that there are dentists who do care and understand and are willing to work with the phobic patient. When I see a new dentist I always write on my new patient form that I have dental phobia and I also mention it to the dentist. They all seem to assume it is pain or the needle that I fear when that isn't it at all. And honestly, I'm too embarrassed and afraid to tell them my real fear, that of gagging and vomiting and lying back with my head lower than my feet.

Just a thought as to something that I would find helpful when going to a new dentist (or even an old one) - on the paperwork how about a section for the phobic with a list of the various fears we may face and we can check yes next to those we have. Seeing the fears in writing makes it more acceptable (as is thinking, oh, if this fear is listed here others must have it also so i guess I'm not so alone). However this checklist won't do much good unless the dentist looks at it acknowledges it and says, "let's talk about this."

Thx, Sharon
Same here Sharon.... i can handle needles, pain (to a degree, obvs!), discomfort etc but it's my ridiculously sensitive gag reflex and subsequent fear of throwing up and or embarrassing myself with a panic attack which is the greatest issue for me (linked to a very traumatic childhood dental experience).
Worst thing is that i did conquer it once before and had a lot of work done (thank goodness), but for some reason one visit to a different dentist to the one who had done all that patient and good work for me set me right back. So i'm facing it again now after far too long....The fear of gagging/vomiting is now joined by the fear of what my subsequent neglect may have done to my teeth. I'm due back at the dentist on the 20th Dec for the first of 2 big cleaning sessions and to review my x-rays, and i am determined that with this new dentists help and patience i can at least try to overcome enough of my fear to face treatment and more regular visits in future.
I feel very stupid because of my anxiety, and i envy people who just breeze in and out of the dentists with no more than perhaps mild trepidation!
For a long time it was needles I feared. But after years of receiving injections for dental work, I have to say I've never really felt anything more than a little pinch.

I guess for me now, my biggest fear is not being understood. I know that dentists know alot of people have anxiety about treatment, but not everyone understands how deeply the phobia can get ingrained. It's really embarrassing for me to try and explain my dental phobia to anyone, let alone a person who's going to be starring in it! I'm a grown woman, with a son and an intelligent one with advanced degrees, but first I turn into a silent stone (an attempt at self-preservation I developed as scared kid), and then if I'm stressed beyond that point, I turn into a blubbering idiot.

And getting that 'look' from people, like they have no idea why I'm so upset over something as simple as a filling, really exacerbates the shame I deal with.
Please be aware that I am carefully reading all of these posts to broaden my understanding of triggers for anxious patients.

Thank you!

As I mentioned before I have a whole host of phobias around dentists through a very bad history.
The only thing I have never been scared of is injections. I would rather have an injection that even a mirror looking at my teeth as so many dentists have complained that I breath and it clouds up the mirror. This is something I don't care about anymore - it's for them to deal with.

This time around I have very fortunately found a dentist who let me speak - he knows me now - in just a few short weeks.

If he ever leaves the dental practice I know that my newest fear will be going in the first time and feeling pressured to get into the chair before I can explain my history and the reasons for my fear.
If any new dentist looks to be not paying attention, not listening (all can be told just by watching their facial expressions - a patient must watch for expressions() and is more concerned about having a look rather than letting me finish my story. The bit where he interrupts me and says 'well just sit back and I'll have a look' - I'll be outta there before he even gets to look as I know he won't ever listen and too many times this has happened and resulted in terrible experiences for me each and every single time - except for this most recent one.
I went in with all the fear and all the balls I could muster (I must have appeared terrified and aggressive all at the same time) - he listened, he cared, he even told me back on our own in the x-ray room ' your story.....you really have been through it. I want to help you, we'll help you.'
I burst into tears yet again - but I knew for sure at that point he had listened.
The thought that I might lose teeth. Like, I can see some cavities in my molars I'll most likely need filled, but all my other teeth look fine and faiy white. It's been awhile since I've visited my dentist and I have this weird nagging fear that he'll tell me even my teeth that look fine and healthy are unhealthy or need to be pulled or something and I won't be able to save them. I just...am afraid of losing teeth... I haven't even gotten my wisdom teeth yet. >_<

I don't know if that sounds silly or if I'm being irrational.
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I hate the sensation of anything gritty in my mouth - I just instantly gag - so any kind of cleaning is horrendous for me. I also seem to have quite a low pain threshold where my mouth is concerned (although not generally) and find that dentists and associated professionals seem to think I'm being melodramatic when I complain that prodding at my teeth and gums hurts.

And - a bad experience today reminded me what I'm most afraid of: lying helplessly in the chair, crying and hyperventilating, while the dental professional carries on regardless!
The thing that's really stood out for me in this thread is the fear of not being taken seriously. That's one I can really relate to.

For comfortdentist, and all the dentists out there listening - and I'm so glad you are! - one of the biggest things you can do to help is to be seen to take your patients' fear seriously. It can make such a difference.

So there are a couple of categories there - one that has already come up in this thread and is a huge issue for me is not being taken seriously or believed when I tell the dentist that the anaesthetic hasn't worked. If your patient tells you that they can feel something they "shouldn't" be able to feel, then for the love of God take them seriously and do something about it! This seems to come up over and over on here, and it can do so much damage.

Then the are the other category of fears - the irrational ones. Yes, sometimes our fears will be irrational, that's how phobias often manifest themselves. (OK, so Godzilla probably isn't really going to turn up and eat everybody.) What the dentist can do to help there, is to remember that even if the thing we fear isn't always grounded in reality, the fear itself is very, very real. There will be a lot that you understand that we don't. Panic might make us afraid of things that will never happen. But ultimately that almost doesn't matter, as what you are dealing with is real fear and real panic, and the big thing is not to dismiss that fear, but to recognise it and offer help.

One more trigger for me is the fear of making the dentist angry, and the fear that they will some day run out of patience and turn on me. I fear them suddenly switching personalities and showing their true colours. This is because that actually happened to me once, and it can take literally years to undo the psychological damage. After about 4 years and an enormous amount of patience on his part, I've finally learned to trust that the dentist I have now won't ever do that. We're on hugging terms now, but even so I can tell from the things I worry about and the way I sometimes respond to him that deep down there is still some tiny part of me that is afraid I'll make him angry. Unfortunately the only way the dentist can help with this one is to keep being patient, keep on showing that it's never going to happen, for as long as it takes.