Overcoming Dental Anxiety

Understanding why people get nervous at the dentist and what we can do to help both at the level of the individual and of the practitioner goes a long way to resolving these challenges.

While some people consider it as easy as a walk in the park, it is not uncommon for people of all ages to struggle with the idea of dental appointments or procedures and to be challenged to feel safe in that environment.

Often, dental appointments for these individuals are delayed and deferred and sometimes at the expense of their health and well-being.

Like all things, the way that we approach going to the dentist varies from person to person.

There are many reasons that a person may not feel comfortable having dental work done.

For some, even the idea of a dental cleaning is challenging and invokes an anxious response.

This may be due to sensory challenges or previous traumatic experiences.

Other times the reason can be as simple as the person doesn't feel comfortable in such a vulnerable situation with practitioners positioned above them while they expose a vulnerable part of their body.
Nervous child waiting for dentist

This can cause some patients to feel a lack of control, and even to feel claustrophobic.

While many of these reasons can be reasoned away with logic, the reality is that the presentation of anxiety is a complex and multifaceted topic that sometimes requires a combination of approaches as well as medical assistance to be able to work through – since it may not be within the patient’s control.

Dental anxiety and your family

The degree to which we are able to offer a calm and comfortable dental experience for our patients and our ability to gain their trust is where our true interest lies.


As a family dental clinic, we believe that our success as a practice comes - not just from whether we treat our patients and offer our procedures competently and effectively – but from how we manage our interactions with our patients.

  • For this reason, family dentistry places importance on the longevity of the relationship that our dentists and their teams have with their patients.
  • We believe in taking steps to begin fostering a positive experience for children as early as possible.
  • Whether in the beginning children are coming in just to have a tour of the facility and to meet the dentist, or whether they are coming in to have regular maintenance completed, we take the opportunity to build a relationship with your child that will leave them with a positive feeling about the dentist.

We believe that the most important part of managing anxiety in our patients is the need for deliberate and trust-based communication.

In this line of thinking, our ability to be flexible in the way that we deliver our services goes a long way to reinforcing the significance and trust that a patient can feel about our clinic, also.

This means that if comfort items such as a blanket or teddy bear will help our patients to feel better during a procedure, we encourage them to bring these items along as well as a support person to hold hands or encourage them through the process.

Fostering this important relationship serves to facilitate open communication with our patients and to let them know that we have their interests in mind.

    Many dental patients are not anxious about the dental work itself, rather, they are concerned that their worries will fall on deaf ears.

    When We Need More Support

    In some cases, despite a patient trusting their dentist to work on their teeth, their nervous system responds to the stress of a procedure with a fight or flight response. This involves adrenaline and cortisol flooding their system, increasing their heart rate and diverting blood away from their digestive system into their limbs where it can be used to escape the situation.

    Although this response is involuntary, it can make it difficult for the patient to remain calm in the chair or to remain still in order for the procedures to be completed as efficiently as possible within the allotted time frame. In this case, our patients may choose to use nitrous sedation.