10 Tips for Overcoming Dental Anxiety

It doesn’t matter if it’s the sound of the drill or the idea of having someone’s hands in your mouth; when you’re afraid of the dentist, it creates more than unease. In some cases, it causes exaggerated worries and irrational fears.

At Soft Touch Dental in Sacramento, California, we understand dental anxiety and work with you to overcome your fears of the dentist. Whether you’re one of the 9%-15% of Americans who avoid the dentist because of fear, or one of the 20% who come only when absolutely necessary, with the help of Dr. Andrew Owyoung and his team, we can alleviate your fears, allowing for regular dental cleanings, exams, and preventive care.

If you need to see the dentist, but dental anxiety is holding you back, here are 10 tips to help you relax, slip comfortably into the dental chair, and finally enjoy a healthy smile.

1. Talk to us about your anxiety

When fear of the dentist keeps you from seeking the oral health care you need, talk to us at Soft Touch Dental about it. When we know about your anxiety, we can make you more comfortable by explaining what happens during each step of a procedure.

2. List your fears on paper

Dental apprehension is often rooted in fear of pain, lack of control, or embarrassment, and until you understand what causes your dental anxiety, you can’t overcome it. So sit down with a pen and paper and detail what is making you anxious. You may realize that your worries are completely irrational and that you really have nothing to fear.

3. Start slowly

If dental anxiety prevented you from getting the care you needed, no one expects you to have every procedure right away. Starting with a cleaning and X-rays gives you a chance to meet our team. During this appointment, we can discuss your issues and build a treatment plan to address them. If you’re still apprehensive, your next appointment can include an easy, noninvasive procedure, such as fluoride treatments or sealants.

4. Bring support

If getting in the door of the dentist’s office creates an issue for you, bring a friend or family member along for support. When you’re bringing a youngster for a dental visit, make sure you let them know what is going to happen when they arrive, and they’ll be less apprehensive as what you told them comes true. Keep the experience positive.

5. Schedule early in the morning

Instead of scheduling your appointment with Dr. Owyoung in the afternoon, ask us for an early morning visit. When you head to the office first thing, you have less time to become anxious about seeing the dentist.

6. Use a distraction

Sometimes, a simple distraction can reduce your dental anxiety, especially once you’re in the treatment room. Listening to music, playing with a stress ball, or counting engage your thinking brain, making your anxiety less likely to spiral out of control.

7. Learn to relax

Learning deep-breathing exercises and other relaxation techniques lessen your dental anxiety. Use these coping skills both before and during your appointment. Practicing things like yoga can also keep you calm and relaxed when worry runs high.

8. Have a secret signal

Before you have any procedure done, talk to us about having a signal that means you need us to stop what we’re doing. Whether you raise your arm or snap your fingers, when any of our team sees the signal, we know you need a break. This reduces your dental fears and lets us know if your anxiety is overwhelming you.

9. Practice good dental hygiene

If fear of pain keeps you from the dentist, know that practicing good dental hygiene at home and having routine dental cleanings and exams is the No. 1 way to avoid invasive dental procedures. By brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and having your teeth cleaned at Soft Touch Dental every six months, you can prevent serious oral health issues that cause significant and long-lasting pain. Getting children started early with good brushing and flossing habits will lessen their need to worry about their dental visits, too!

10. If needed, seek help

When coming to the dentist seems next to impossible due to dental anxiety, and even with these tips, you can’t do it, we recommend seeking professional help. Psychologists offer a range of treatments, from cognitive behavioral therapy to immersion therapy, which helps you overcome fear of the dentist.


Here at Soft Touch Dental, we understand the panic-stricken fear that dental anxiety creates, and we can help you overcome it. Call us today to talk about what we can do to help you or book an initial consultation online.

Dr. Owyoung Andrew Owyoung, DDS, has been providing comprehensive family dental care for 29 years to the Sacramento area. Widely considered a top dentist in Sacramento, the staff at Soft Touch Dentistry are equipped with the knowledge, experience, and equipment to deliver an unparalleled dental experience.

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