Conquering Dental Fears and Anxiety

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At Mainstream Dental we understand that many of patients experience certain levels of dental fear or dental anxiety when visiting with us.  Feeling uncomfortable about your visit is a normal and natural response that occurs among most Americans.  The causes are numerous.   Some have fear or anxiety as a result of previous bad experiences with dentists, they’re concerned about costs, they’re embarrassed by their teeth, they have fear of needles or medical settings in general, they’re afraid of possible pain during treatment, they are fearful they may choke or gag, and/or they have experienced post-traumatic experiences such as physical, emotional and sexual abuse.




The level – and strength – of these uncomfortable feelings vary and can be summed in three phrases.  “Dental anxiety” is quite common and it is often related to a fear of the unknown (i.e. fear that accompanies your agreement to a dental procedure that you’ve never experienced before).    “Dental fear” is a negative reaction to what you perceive as a known danger.  Here you may be recalling unpleasant treatments you had in the past and assuming they will unpleasant again.  Dental fear typically causes you mind to go into a fight-or-flight response.  Finally, “dental phobia” is like dental fear, but much stronger.  Individuals with dental phobia will typically avoid a dentist at all costs.

Dental phobia can have wide-ranging consequences on a person’s life. Not only does it affect their dental health suffer, but dental phobia can affect one’s general health, their relationships, and their job.  People who believe they may be dental phobic may want to visit their mental health professional.

People who experience dental fear or dental anxiety can attempt a number of practices to help reduce their fears and anxieties:

  1. Talk with Us!  Dr. Jeffrey Fortna and the entire Mainstream Dental staff are here for you!   We’re happy to arrange an appointment where you can express your concerns, describe past experience, ask your questions, and reduce your fears.
  2. Develop a Relationship!  Developing a relationship with a dentist – and dental hygienist – that you trust is important.  Many of our Mainstream Dental patients are longtime customers that appreciate our consistent level of care and welcome their visits with us.
  3. Find the Best Time for You!  Some of our patients like to schedule their appointments earlier in the day so it’s not on their mind for too long.  Others, for example, those who have problems with gag reflux, prefer the afternoon.  Consider a time you believe will create the least amount of stress for you.
  4. Distractions!  Many of our Mainstream Dental patients love the fact that we have televisions in our rooms.  Entertainment and information is a great way to keep your mind off of the dental procedure.  Want us to change the channel?  No problem!
  5. You do have Control!  Some people experience dental fear or dental anxiety because they feel they will have no control during the procedure, including no way to communicate.  Dr. Jeffrey Fortna, and his team, encourages you to use hand gestures to communicate with us during procedures (i.e raise your hand to indicate you want the work to stop).  We are also happy to take a break should you feel you need one.
  6. Just Breathe!  A great way to prepare yourself for your dental visit is to practice meditation, relaxation techniques, and/or deep breathing exercises.
  7. Bring a Friend!  Many people find the best way to reduce fear or anxiety is to lean on a friend, family, or loved one.  You’re always welcome to bring a loved one with you and many of customers say they feel much more relaxed knowing someone is there for them in the waiting room.

Any of the above techniques may help you with your dental fear or dental anxiety.  If you feel you may need addition suggestions or recommendations, please feel free to contact Dr. Jeffrey Fortna and as for a consultation appointment.  Remember:  while dental fear is a normal and natural response, fear of what may occur if you ignore your teeth should also be a concern.

Advances in techniques and technology have made dentistry much more pleasant than it was decades ago. New treatment methods and dental equipment make procedures that were once considered uncomfortable or painful to occur more quickly and to be more pleasant.  Dr. Fortna, and the entire Mainstream Dental staff, is always available to answer your questions and to help you have the most pleasant experience possible.  So fear not!  If you’re afraid of going to the dentist, you’re not alone, and know we’re here for YOU!


The content above is applicable for many of our Mainstream Dental patients  Your individual circumstances may alter the suggestions or instructions being provided.  Please contact Dr. Jeffrey Fortna for an appointment to discuss your unique dental needs. 

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