How to Manage or Overcome Dental Anxiety – For Patients

Dental Anxiety is one of the most common types of fear regarding Doctors, there is another term which is used to describe this condition – Dental Phobia. It is commonly described by patients as – we become anxious before visiting a Dentist or before a Dental appointment, becoming sweaty while waiting for your Appointment. Dental phobia can at first prevent the patients from visiting a dentist and also can lead to fainting or syncope or increase in BP while in the middle of a Dental Appointment.

Common Signs that you have Dental Anxiety or Dental Phobia:

  1. Not able to sleep the day before your Dental Appointment
  2. Feeling Anxious at the thought of your Dental Visit
  3. Having weak feet and hands as the Dental Appointment time gets near
  4. Fear thinking about the dental Instruments, sharp instruments, sounds of dental drill

All these are signs of Dental Anxiety or Dental Phobia and these can play a major role in preventing you from getting proper Dental care. Which in turn can make any minor dental issues (Dental Caries, Periapical abscess) which could have been treated with simple treatment plans turn into major issues (Space Infections) which might need surgical approach later. Many people due to Dental Phobia tend to keep consuming over the counter pain medications or even Antibiotics for long term which can not just make the tooth ache into a Chronic infection but can also lead to Antibiotic resistance and in some extreme cases affect the Kidneys. So it is best to overcome Dental Phobia or Dental Anxiety and visit your Dentist in case of any problems.

Tips to overcome dental fear or dental anxiety for patients

There are few Steps which can be taken by any patient who might be having Dental Anxiety or Phobia to overcome it and visit a Dentist and get their Dental treatments done.

Steps to Overcome Dental Anxiety or Dental Phobia:


This is the first and foremost mode with which you can overcome your Dental fear or Anxiety, let the Dentist know that you have Anxiety and a fear of Dental Appointments. Most Dentists can understand and will change their treatment plan accordingly, they will spread the treatment into multiple appointments and will do each step after explaining you about what happens next which will reduce the level of anxiety to a large extent – This is called the Tell-Show-Do technique.

Choose your Dentist:

Being a Dentist I should not be saying this, but if you are not comfortable with your present dentist, you can always change the Dentist who might understand your condition better. Sometimes a very busy practioner might not be able to do justice to you and not spend much time with you. So you can choose a Dentist who you might be comfortable with.

Learn Dental Hand Signs:

There are something called as Dental Hand Signs which help the Patient and Dentist to communicate with each other during the treatment process. As you will be sitting with your mouth open, you may not be able to communicate with your dentist with your mouth, so learning Hand Signs as shown in the image below can help you in conveying your problem to the dentist while he or she is working on you. The three pain important signs to know are – Stop, Pain, I want to talk.

Dental Hand Signals for patients to communicate with dentist while treatment

Appointment Time:

Schedule your Appointment in the morning, first appointment of the day will prevent you from getting anxious waiting in the waiting hall of the Dental clinic. Waiting in the reception are with other patients might also lead to increase in your Anxiety.


There are certain medications which can be taken to relieve Anxiety before Dental appointments such as Propanol etc. Other forms of Anxiety reducing option is Inhalation sedation (Nitrous Oxide + Oxygen) also called as Conscious sedation which helps in reducing your Anxiety during the Dental procedure.

The other option will be I.V sedation where a sedative drug is injected to achieve a longer sedation and it will not wear off as easily or as fast as Inhalation type. The last resort would be General Anesthesia or GA which is done as a last resort.

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