Abolish Your Dental Fears

Barbara Tritz
· September 30, 2014 ·

6 minutes

So, the elephant in the dental operatory room is fear.  Nobody, well, almost nobody really likes going to the dentist, or for that matter, even the dental hygienist.  I don’t take it personally.   I just wish I could make it all better for you.  We in the dental profession do truly want you to have a good experience.  This post will briefly go into dental fears and phobias and then, most importantly, how to make a trip to the dentist better, much better.

http://www.dentalfearcentral.org/  This is a great website- it goes into everything in much more depth than I will cover it here.  Please go here if you  have any anxiety about dentistry.

Why visit a sedation dentist and what is dental sedation?

Sedation Dentistry will relax you ! via Crown Council

Dental fears are different from dental phobias.  People with a phobia can’t even think about going to the dentist without breaking into a cold sweat.  If going to the dentist does this to you, please get some professional counselling.  Once you know what triggers your phobia, you can work through that and stop being afraid. Unfortunately, it is often what happens in childhood that leaves its impact well into adulthood.   For those that are in this category – there is oral sedation!  Take a pill the night before, take another pill that morning, and then of course, have someone drive you to and from the appointment.  You’ll wake up the next morning and not remember what happened. You’ll be able to respond during the appointment, and be very calm and relaxed.  Work with your dentist, communicate your concerns, take only the recommended dose, and again, be sure to have someone accompany you.
Prevent dental fears in children by practicing prevention, now!- see my post on Conquering Cavities in Kids.  Make dentistry positive for them from the start.  Have your dental personnel use the Show-Tell-Do method with your children.  (Works for adults as well!)

For adults:
Going to the dentist can be uncomfortable: between the numbing, the drill, the sounds, the discomfort, gagging, choking, tastes, lectures, pain, invasion of  your personal space, nothing hurts yet they keep finding work to do, and the expense.  I’m surprised anyone goes. Yikes, putting that list out there is uncomfortable for me.  Thank you for coming in to see us anyway!  The dental profession has come a long since since I started so many years ago.  We truly work hard to make it the very best experience we can.  Here’s what’s new, and improved!

1. Numbing- There’s newer anesthetic that works faster, and tools to inject it that guarantees it’s  virtually pain free.  Injecting it very slowly is key, and there’s a tool called the Wand that does just that.

2. Even better, there’s a product called Oraverse that reverses the anesthetic so it wears off much faster, sixty minutes as opposed to three hours or more.

3. Drilling has even improved.  There are dentists that use lasers and air abrasion to remove decay- this greatly reduces pain. Some decay can even be removed without needing anesthesia!  No more whining drill sounds.

sound waves
Via Nucalm

4. For times when the drill in needed (such as when removing old silver fillings) I’d recommend noise canceling headphones and your favorite music.  Bring your iPod into the appointment.  I love my headphones, it takes that loud humming sound right away!

5. Discomfort- yes, even a dental hygiene visit can be uncomfortable.  I always offer my patients topical anesthetic– it’s a liquid that I squirt along the gumline, it lasts for 15 minutes and takes that pain right away!  It does taste like medicinal banana, so I always rinse well and spray some good tasting Rain spray right after.  Makes it much better!  I also offer my patients a blanket and knee pillow to aid in their comfort.  The weight of the blank is  comforting and the knee pillow takes the stress off the lower back.

6. Gagging-  that can be a problem, especially when taking x-rays.  My secret to improving that experience is to use table salt– sprinkle a little on the tongue.   Works like a charm almost every time.  For those that can’t, there are now new panoramic  x-ray machines that take fabulous pictures  in 3-D without needing to put anything more in your mouth than a plastic stick for you to bite on.

7. Choking– We do put lots of water in your mouth, it’s part of the job to keep teeth cool. When ever possible, the dentist uses a rubber dam.  Ask to hold the saliva ejector. Use it when you need to.  Some dental offices use an isodry, it suctions the back of your throat and works great!  We have it in our office. Communication is the key- let your dental team know what problems you are experiencing and they’ll work hard to fix it.

8. Tastes– yes, dentistry has things that taste crappy.  We use the dental dams when possible to keep tastes off your tongue, I use Rain spray, and rinse quickly.  Please let us know if you need a rinse.

9. LecturesI’m done lecturing.  Let’s look at options instead. you pick what works best for you and keeps you health.   The more you do at home, the less we need to do in the office.

Happy Fall! via Pinterest

10. Pain– dentistry no longer needs to hurt.  Between the oral sedation, the great anesthetics and nitrous oxide,  it can be so much better.  Let your dental team know you are feeling anxious and need some help to relax.  They will do whatever you need!

11. Personal space invasion– yes, we need to get right “in your face.”  I work hard to maintain good posture by wearing magnification, a light, and a face mask.  I also work from behind you so I’m not hovering right near your face. If at any time you need a break, let me know!

12. Expensive– well, it can be.  Prevention is much less costly and the more you do at home, the healthier you are, and less costly it’ll be.  Mean time, if you need dental care, don’t wait.  You would probably not purchase a car in one lump sum, would you?  Most dental offices have finance plans, just like that car dealership.  Break it down to monthly payments you can fit in your budget.

13. Nothing hurts, yet your dentist keeps finding work to do it your mouth.  Teeth and gums don’t hurt until it’s too late and much more expensive.  By recommending work when they see things in the early stages, it does save you money down the road.  Work with your dental team to establish a mouth healthy baseline, and once there, work with them to keep it that way.  Then, you won’t be nickled and dimed to death.

If, after reading all of this, you still feel uncomfortable with your dentist, find a new one! Someone you trust, like, and can work with will make all the difference.
Communication is the key to helping you have a great, pleasant dental experience.  Talk with your dental team! Get rid of that elephant in the room!

Say good bye to your elephant!

Say good bye to your elephant!

The most important thing I can say today:
Instead of hating the dental office, I’d love for you to think about it another way.  Your dental team is really your best ally in health care!  Your dental hygienist is the only health care professional that spends two hours or more with you every year!  We are truly looking out for your total body health and wellness.  Yes, you read that correctly!  The mouth is the gateway to total body health!  We want you to be healthy. And, often we can spot disease and illnesses in your mouth before they show up in your body.  Just last year I found a case of leukemia in a patient.  Her gums just would not heal and I suggested she see her physician.  Her doctor was amazed, and they got treatment underway immediately!
Dentistry is changing.  We are now taking blood pressure, looking at your medical history, your family history, and your medications much more closely.  Your mouth is connected to your body.  Heart disease and stroke are only the tip of this iceberg.  A healthy mouth helps your body be healthy, function well and look great!  Health provides longevity, well-being, and pain-free living.  Being able to eat, chew, sing, talk, and kiss make life worth while.  A beautiful smile boosts self confidence.
Dentistry is the key to it all.
Love your dental team and ask them to help you get well, be well and stay well.   Total body health and wellness starts in your dental office.  Make your dentist your health hero!


If you’d like help finding a Total Body Dentist, let me know.

Keep smiling!


Hello, I'm Barbara Tritz

Unveiling the Stories Behind Dental Hygiene

Loving science, especially biology, from an early age, Barbara is a registered dental hygienist, certified biological hygienist, and orofacial myofunctional therapist. In 2019, she received the Hu-Friedy/ADHA Master Clinician Award from the American Dental Hygienist Association.

Share your thoughts below!


  1. Estetico Manila

    Nice! This post is a big help to the people who has fear going to dentist. Maybe, what they need is a dentist who will treat them the way they want.

  2. Anonymous

    I really liked your blog until the rude comment about seeking professional counseling due to dental phobias. Dental phobia is so much more than just "being afraid" of the dentist.

    Perhaps you can look into this and share with other dental professionals that most patients with dental phobia asking for IV sedation aren't "drug seekers," and really just want to take care of their dental health without stroking out in the chair.

  3. Barbara Tritz

    Thank you for your comment. I was in no way trying to be glib or rude in suggesting professional counseling for those with dental phobias. A phobia is indeed more than just being afraid of the dentist. It's an intense, unreasonable fear.
    It keeps people from making a dental appointment, even when they have a tooth ache. A professional therapist may be the best way to conquer this fear. I advocate medications and oral sedation for those that need it but what should I suggest for those that can't even make a phone call to the office? A counselor is not limited to just psychologists- it could be a hypnotherapist, a Buteyko Breathing specialist (did you know hyperventilation can cause panic attacks?) or how about an acupuncturist? Finding out the cause of the phobia and conquering it – with professional help if needed would be best. Drugs before and during the appointment make dentistry so much better, but best of all is being free of fear. And sometimes we all need a little help to get to this place!


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