You have a great dental practice, but you can’t escape this problem: fear of the dentist! Understanding dental phobia will help you ease patient worry and build a more successful practice. This list of the top 10 fears of dental patients also features solutions you can put into action. 



No-Fear-Dentistry-How-to-Help-Your-Patients-And-Your-PracticeFear #1: The Dreaded Needle!

Needle phobia is real. But you can minimize the fear of needles! Talk to patients before the procedure. Ask them if they’d rather not see the needle. Offer some of sedation options available. Even make injections less painful with a variety of new devices on the market.

Fear #2: Helplessness

Many patients fear that they will lose control once in the dentist’s chair. Communicate with patients, both before and during a procedure. Explain what you’re doing and how they can signal you for a break or a question. Building trust with patients makes them feel more secure.

Fear #3: “Dental Office Smell”

Unfortunately, knowing what “Dental Office Smell” is won’t make your patients like it any better. Some ways to minimize it: good air circulation, medical-grade air fresheners, or aromatherapy. Lavender oil has been shown to have a relaxing effect in dental offices.

Fear #4: Pain

Even with excellent pain management and new options allowing for nearly painless dentistry, this is still a huge fear. Offer your patients the newest technologies in sedation and laser dentistry to minimize anxiety and pain. 

Fear #5: Anxiety about Past Experiences

Up to 8% of Americans avoid the dentist due to bad past experiences. Talk to patients about their fears. Explain exactly how you will prevent those things from recurring.  Provide calming distractions, like iPods at each chair.

Fear #6: Loud Noises—the Dreaded Drill

Dental work can be LOUD. Minimize the impact of sounds—especially the drill—with noise-cancelling headphones for each patient. Connect them to music or a television that patients control.

Fear #7: Fear of Being Scolded

People know when they are not perfect in their dental hygiene and they don’t want lectures. Some dentists even offer a No Lecture Guarantee! Don’t torture your captive audience! Be positive and make suggestions, but never scold.

Fear #8: Invasion of Personal Space and Claustrophobia

For some patients, opening their mouths and letting you poke around is a real invasion. Being trapped in a chair practically upside down under lights can feel confining. Offer breaks, a soothing atmosphere, and lots of communication. Sedation can be a great solution, too.

Fear #9: High Costs

The American Dental Association reports that over 40% of Americans skip dental care due to costs. Even for people who can afford them, the costs can be upsetting. Never assume all prices are reasonable for all budgets. Explain everything up front and be kind to people who are worried.

Fear #10: Fear of the Dental Office Itself!

Just the idea of coming to your office can send patients into a panic. Why not make your office itself more pleasant? Aromatherapy, on-demand music or television for patients, and compassionate staff can improve treatment experiences. But don’t forget your front office and waiting room! Some dentists have even been opting for a dental spa rather than a traditional practice.


Bottom line: How to Overcome Fear

No fear dentistry is all about communication, compassion, and the best possible care. Patients who know what to expect and trust you will keep coming back. And they’ll tell their friends what a great practice you have. Fear of the dentist can be conquered by giving patients a positive experience!

Photo: Mouthing Off by Demi-Brooke, CC BY 2.0

Categories: Patients