Common Dental Fears and How to Overcome Them

person looking calm and smiling

For some people, the idea of dental work is scarier than a horror movie. Whether you experience anxiety or have a severe dental phobia, these feelings can get in the way of taking the best care of your teeth. One study showed that 24% of people wanting a dental implant refused treatment due to their dental fear. If you're afraid of getting certain dental work done, the good news is that it's usually not as bad as you think. With modern sedation and pain management advancements, common dental procedures like root canals can be virtually painless.

Common fears

  1. Wisdom Teeth
    When it comes to wisdom tooth extraction, many people cringe in fear at the thought, but the scary scenario they envision is probably outdated! These days, you don't have to worry about pain as most dentists offer a variety of sedation options, even general anesthesia, to make you comfortable during the procedure.

    The recovery isn't that bad, either. Just some gauze, an ice pack and some pain meds should be all you need. Well, that and something good to binge-watch. You'll likely be feeling much better by the third day after surgery, and any bleeding should be gone within a week.

    It is true that getting wisdom teeth removed hurts for a bit, but it's nothing you can't handle! If your wisdom teeth have been bothering you or are causing problems in your mouth, this common outpatient procedure could help improve your day-to-day life. Worth it!

  2. Root Canal
    Everyone has heard of a root canal, referenced in movies, TV and all over pop culture as excruciatingly painful. So many people fear the procedure, some even avoiding the dentist when they think they might need a root canal. But in reality, root canals are meant to relieve pain — a deep aching cavity or abscess won't go away on its own. All those ideas about the procedure being painful are old news. With today's numbing and sedation options, the procedure is no more painful than getting a filling.

    Root canals do take a couple hours to complete as the dentist works carefully step by step to clean out any infection, but that's the part that will prevent you from being in pain in the future. Consider bringing wireless earbuds to listen to music or an audiobook to pass the time and distract you from focusing on the procedure.

  3. Dental Implants
    The idea of getting a dental implant can seem scary. Envisioning your dentist putting a screw into your jawbone ... not the most relaxing of images! But the truth is that your dentist knows what they're doing, and with the advancement of implant technology, the procedure is minimally invasive.

    From start to finish, the entire dental implant recovery process is around 3-6 months, which might seem like a long time, but consider that your jawbone needs time to fuse with the implant, creating a solid base for your new artificial tooth. You usually only have to pay special attention to eating soft foods and brushing gently for about three days after the procedure.

    Getting an implant can be life-changing, making it easier to eat, allowing you to speak more clearly, and restoring your smile.


Even with the knowledge that dental work isn't as terrible as it's made out to be, it can be hard to overcome anxiety. If you're feeling anxious, talk to your dentist. They can work with you to come up with a plan of action that makes you feel safe and comfortable. After each appointment, you may find that your anxiety is lifting and you can smile a little easier.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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What To Expect During a DENTAL VISIT

On your first visit, your dentist will take a full health history. On follow-up visits, if your health status has changed, make sure to tell your dentist. Here’s what you can expect during most trips to the dentist.

  • A Thorough Cleaning – a dental hygienist or dentist will scrape along and below the gum line to remove built-up plaque and tartar that can cause gum disease, cavities, bad breath and other problems. Then he or she will polish and floss your teeth.

  • A Full Dental Examination – your dentist will perform a thorough examination of your teeth, gums and mouth, looking for signs of disease or other problems.

  • X-Rays – X-rays can diagnose problems otherwise unnoticed, such as damage to jawbones, impacted teeth, abscesses, cysts or tumors, and decay between the teeth.