9 Tips for Overcoming Dental Anxiety

Even though most of us well understand the benefits of seeing a dentist, there are still many people who worry about sitting in a dental chair. For some, it’s more than just a general anxiety. It’s estimated that 9-20% of people around the country avoid going to the dentist because of extreme fear. So what causes this fear, and what can be done about it? Nataly Vilderman, DDS, who is a caring cosmetic and family dentist at her practice in San Francisco, explains why some people are fearful and what they can do to overcome their fears.

What causes dental anxiety?

Many studies have been done to try and understand why some people fear going to the dentist. Patients have reported experiencing a number of symptoms when an appointment is approaching, including:

Some of the reasons given for their fear include:

If anything above describes you, know that there are many things you can do to overcome your stress and anxiety. Here are nine tips you can use to feel confident about going to the dentist.

1. Accept the fear

The first step in overcoming any fear is to identify it and accept that it exists. By admitting that you have a problem, you can actually start to deal with the issue in a much more direct way. One way to identify your fears is to write them down. Ask yourself why you fear going to the dentist. By listing your reasons, you can take the mystery out of your fears and begin to address them.

2. See a dentist who understands

It’s important to see a dentist you can trust when you’re dealing with dental anxieties. As an experienced dentist, Dr. Vilderman understands that some people experience genuine levels of fear and anxiety. She always treats every patient with respect and professionalism.

3. Bring a friend or family member

If you have a friend or family member who can make you feel better during your dental appointment, why not bring them along? A person like this can lend a supporting hand and make you feel stronger and more able to cope.

4. Open communication

If you’re feeling anxious about your appointment, Dr. Vilderman wants you to be open about it with her. By letting her know, Dr. Vilderman can help you overcome your fears by talking you through any treatments.

5. Sedation can help

Sometimes, being sedated can reduce your anxiety. Nitrous oxide, also called laughing gas, is popular with patients. And some patients can get general anaesthesia when appropriate.

6. Breathe and relax

It’s widely known that breathing exercises and meditation can work wonders for reducing stress levels. Even a simple breathing technique before an appointment, such as taking deep breaths and slowly letting them out, can help relax your muscles and slow down your heart.

7. Distractions are good

Just as stress balls are helpful for some people in everyday life, they can also be very effective during dental appointments. Some people even listen to music on their headphones. These sorts of distractions can help take your mind off your dental procedure.

8. Give yourself a gift

Have you ever rewarded yourself with retail therapy after a particularly stressful week at work? The same method can be applied to dental fears. Before your next dental appointment, promise yourself you’ll buy something nice. If you have a big dental procedure done, you could even promise yourself a vacation.

9. Professional help

If you’ve tried a number of methods to overcome your fears and nothing is helping, try seeing a psychologist. A professional may be able to help you work through your anxieties.


If you have dental anxieties and want a caring team to help you overcome them, book an appointment online or over the phone with Nataly Vilderman, DDS today.

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