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I Have Dental Phobia: Can You Help?

the band and Mike Pela

If the thought of dental treatment gives you the jitters, you’re not alone. Nearly 36% of Americans have this form of dental anxiety. 

But if your fear of the dentist is so great that you avoid seeing one altogether — even when you’re in pain — then you might be among the 3% of adults worldwide who have dental phobia, or dentophobia. In short, your fear is out of proportion to the situation.

Dr. David Blaustein understands many factors come into play with dentophobia, perhaps a fear of noises or needles. Whatever causes you to avoid the dentist, Chelsea Dental Aesthetics can help. We offer sedation dentistry (including sleep dentistry) here in our New York City office. 

Identify the source of your phobia

Common sources of dental phobia include fear of pain, the anesthetic not working, needles, smells, noises, and blood.

Once you identify your specific triggers, talk to us! Depending on what bothers you, we can suggest simple modifications to help alleviate your worries. For example, if noises are the issue, consider wearing noise-canceling headphones or earbuds to listen to an audiobook or music.

If fear of the unknown fuels your anxiety, Dr. Blaustein can explain every part of your treatment so you know what to expect. 

Schedule your appointment in the morning

If your dental phobia causes you to feel nauseous at the thought of going to the dentist, consider scheduling an appointment first thing in the morning so it’s not looming over your head all day. Once it’s completed, treat yourself for prioritizing your oral care. 

Try anxiety-reducing strategies 

Deep breathing can help you deal with any type of anxiety, including dental phobia. That’s because deep breathing shifts your body out of flight-or-fight mode and into a more relaxed state. Try this on your own or listen to a guided meditation to help you calm your mind.

Consider nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) can help you relax and feel calm during an appointment. You inhale this odorless gas through a special mask for almost immediate effect. Despite the name, you might not actually laugh. But you might feel happy or euphoric. 

Laughing gas might be ideal for those who fear pain. And because the effects wear off quickly, you don’t need anyone to drive you home after your procedure. 

Consider oral sedation

Oral sedation refers to medication you take by mouth before you arrive for a dental procedure. Medications like Valium, Halcion, Xanax, and Ativan block fear receptors in your brain.

Oral sedation medications induce a sleep-like state, so you shouldn’t travel alone. Whether you drive, walk, or take the subway, have a friend or family member accompany you to and from the office.

Treat underlying anxiety disorders

The Chelsea Dental Aesthetics team can help you tame your dental fears, but if your anxiety isn’t limited to the dentist's office, don’t brush it off. Seeking professional mental health care can help you find relief from anxiety in all areas of your life.

Medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes can go a long way in treating anxiety. 

Get the dental care you need

If you struggle with dental phobia, know that we’re here to help you get the dental care you need in a comfortable, relaxed manner. To learn more, call our Manhattan office at 917-200-0219 or request your appointment online.


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