Dentophobia, otherwise known as dental anxiety is a condition affecting a small, but significant number of people. Those who suffer from this condition rarely, if ever, visit the dentist. The fear is very real. In fact, in many cases, it can be downright paralyzing for the afflicted. But, who can blame them? After all, do you know anybody that considers the semi-annual trip to the dentist to be their idea of a good time? I didn’t think so.

Dental Anxiety Symptoms

Most people are well aware that they have dental anxiety. However, some symptoms are subtle, and can go unnoticed. Here’s a number of symptoms often associated with dental anxiety:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Faster breathing
  • Sweaty palms
  • Feeling “keyed-up,” edgy or irritable
  • Foot tapping or fidgeting
  • Difficulty sleeping the night before a visit
  • Putting-off making an appointment
  • Not showing up for your appointment

Self-Help Tips

So, what should you do if you have any or all of the symptoms listed above? Here is a number of tips that you can try on your own prior to your next dental visit:

  • Schedule your appointment for a time when you will not feel rushed or under pressure.
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before your appointment
  • Eat a high protein-meal or snack before your visit
  • Avoid caffeinated or sugary beverages or foods on the day of your visit
  • Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing
  • Distract yourself by listening to music on the way to your dental visit
  • Use relaxation techniques such as deep-breathing exercises, progressive muscle-relaxation exercises, or closing your eyes and visualizing restful or relaxing scenes
  • Do not drink alcohol the night before or the day of your visit to calm you. Alcohol causes the pain-numbing medicine to not work to control pain symptoms.

Professional Treatments

If you find that you’re still displaying one or more of the symptoms listed earlier, then it’s time to take more drastic action. Specifically, it’s time to speak with your dentist about treatment methods that they may have available to calm your anxiety. These methods most often include: administering local anesthetics to numb pain or discomfort, acupuncture, sedation, massage, etc. Your dentist should be able to determine the best course of treatment depending on the severity of your anxiety.

Your Experiences

Do you, or have you ever had a dental phobia? Did you treat yourself or seek professional help? What helped alleviate your anxiety?

Further Resources

Dental Fear Central
Wikipedia – Dental Anxiety

Cory Kemp is the founder and chief editor of He's committed to providing consumers with helpful tips for saving money at the dentist. Follow me on Google +