Understanding Anxiety - New York, NY

How the Phobia begins

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What Causes Dental Fear, Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Phobia?

About 15 to 20% of people avoid going to the dentist because of fear, anxiety or even panic attacks. Extreme phobias leave people to avoid going to the dentist, and are typically forced when pain arises.

Signs of dental phobia include:

anxious dental patient sleeping

Common causes of dental phobia and anxiety:


Fear of pain

Fear of pain is a very common reason for avoiding the dentist. This fear usually stems from an early dental experience that was unpleasant or painful or from dental "pain and horror" stories told by others. Thanks to the many advances in dentistry made over the years, most of today's dental procedures are considerably less painful or even pain-free.
Most local anesthetics take effect quickly (within 10 minutes) and last up to an hour. Local anesthetics are available over the counter and as prescription in gel, ointment, cream, spray, patch, liquid and injectable forms. Sometimes local anesthesia is combined with a mild sedation in order to help relax patients.

Lidocaine is the most commonly used local anesthetic as it seems to have the least amount of allergic reactions.


Fear of injections or fear the injection won't work

Many people are terrified of needles, especially when inserted into their mouth. Beyond this fear, others fear that the anesthesia hasn't yet taken effect or wasn't a large enough dose to eliminate any pain before the dental procedure begins.


Fear of anesthetic side effects

Some people fear the potential side effects of anesthesia such as dizziness, feeling faint, or nausea. Others don't like the numbness or "fat lip" associated with local anesthetics.


Feelings of helplessness and loss of control

It's common for people to feel these emotions considering the situation -- sitting in a dental chair with your mouth wide open, unable to see what's going on.


Embarrassment and loss of personal space

Many people feel uncomfortable about the physical closeness of the dentist or hygienist to their face. Others may feel self-conscious about the appearance of their teeth or possible mouth odors.

How to overcome dental phobia and anxiety

Communicate your fears and concerns with your dentist, or feel free to be in contact with us. Your practitioner should create a comfortable plan to make you less anxious. They should be transparent to explain how dental pain can be avoided. If your dentist doesn’t take your fear seriously, find another dentist or contact us directly.

Your Comfort is Our Singular Focus

Learn more about how we can help calm your nerves before your upcoming procedure.