Fearing the dentist is extremely common. If you haven’t been to the dentist for a while (and this is true for many people in a COVID world) or you dread the experience every time you go, this blog is for you. We want to set your mind at ease and provide some tips that will make your experience more enjoyable.

There are a few common reasons people fear the dentist:

1. The fear of pain

If your fear of pain is mild, it may help to know that today, dental pain is minimal. We have many tricks up our sleeve to cause the least amount of pain when we work on your mouth. When you show up, let us know transparently about your fear, and we will do everything we can to make your visit as comfortable and stress-free as possible. There is also truth to the fact that if you put off the dentist, there will likely be more discomfort in your future when your small problem becomes painful every day for you! Our job is to provide pain relief, and to help you avoid pain in the future. We are here for you! If your fear of pain is acute (a phobia), you could also consider sedation dentistry, which is a better option than not going at all.

2. The fear of cost

This is a common and very real fear. Dental work can be expensive. At Vivo, we pride ourselves on giving you ALL the options at your disposal, including what doing nothing at all might look like. Depending on your issue, we are very honest with the avenues available to you, and how much they will cost. We leave the choice to you. Although dental work may cost some money now, consider the expanded cost if you do nothing a few years down the road. Going to your regular check-ups and cleanings are the most cost-effective way to care for your teeth in the long run because they prevent more expensive problems from happening tomorrow.

3. The fear of unknown problems

Going to the dentist (especially after a long break) can feel like opening Pandora’s Box. Who knows what’s happening in there?! This fear is very understandable, and the only thing that can address it is to gain more knowledge. 

If you avoid the dentist for months or years, your concern over what you don’t know (but suspect) will only increase with the passing of time. We’ve noticed that when fearful folk show up and learn the truth, it brings them a sense of relief and freedom, because there is a path forward. Even if the news is not ideal, at least now they know and have control of what happens next. And often, it is not as bad as what their imaginations cooked up.

4. You’ve had bad experiences in the past

One of the commonest reasons for avoiding the dentist is past bad experiences, especially those that stem from your childhood. If this is the case for you, please let us know that you had a truly awful childhood experience, and we can create a plan for you that will bring you ease and comfort. There are many strategies to help this fear, including meeting with us and talking beforehand to build trust and voice your concerns. Booking an appointment during quiet hours often helps, as well as bringing noise-canceling headphones, doing deep breathing, and bringing a loved one for support. You can get through this bad experience. Your past does not need to write the future of your oral health, and we are here for you.

5. Experiencing judgment from your dentist or hygienist for not coming in a long time

Many patients who haven’t been for a long time fear that the dentist or hygienist will do a righteous finger-wagging. “You need to come more often, see what happens?” You imagine them saying. It makes us sad to hear of professionals who treat patients this way. At Vivo, we are committed to meeting you where you are, whether you were last here 6 months ago or 6 years ago. We are courteous, honest, and lead with service – which means we focus on what is best for you now, not where you have been. 

Regardless of what has caused your fear of the dentist, the most important step is to let us know. When we understand your experience, it means we can use all the tools we learned in our training to make your experience as smooth and enjoyable as possible.