Are you afraid of the dentist?

Fear of the dentist or dentophobia (odontophobia)

Fear of the dentist is very common. This phobia often leads patients to postpone appointments and important treatments, which can have serious consequences for their oral and dental health.

Illustration of the vicious cycle of fear of the dentist @Dental Geneva 2021

If you suffer from extreme dentophobia (also called dental fear, dental phobia or odontophobia), you have probably already felt a feeling of panic accompanied by tachycardia and sweating or nausea when you visit the dentist. It is estimated that less than 10% of the population suffers from this severe form of dentophobia.

According to recent studies, the moderate form of this phobia affects 36% of people. There are multiple reasons for being afraid of going to the dentist: traumatic experiences during childhood, beliefs[1] transmitted by the media or the people close to you, fear of anaesthesia needles, having a very low pain threshold or endogenous factors such as genetics and character traits, etc.

- Dental Geneva

Fear of going to the dentist can have significant effects on the life of people suffering from this type of anxiety or phobia, such as an increase in cavities or a worsening of the state of gum health resulting in tooth loss, persistent pain, bad breath or less self-confidence due to having a dental appearance that is no longer ‘appealing’.

- Dental Geneva
Often, dental treatment will only take place at the last minute, in other words, when the pain becomes unbearable.

How to manage dental anxiety or phobia

At our office, we analyse the best way to treat this type of anxiety and phobia in order to prevent poor oral and dental hygiene. Our dentists and orthodontists are capable of effectively treating patients suffering from dental anxiety.

It’s important for you to tell us if you suffer from this type of anxiety!

Dr. Victoria Klimovich

Regardless of its severity, it’s important for you to tell us if you suffer from this type of anxiety! Discussing the different trigger factors allows us to create a customised treatment plan.

Certain adaptive techniques can also help you, such as:

  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Distractions (such as listening to music or using screens)
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Hypnosis

Severe dental phobia or anxiety may require care by means of relative analgesia  or conscious sedation, drugs to relieve anxiety or general anaesthesia. Referral to a psychologist can also help. Targeted short-term therapies, including cognitive behavioural therapy, can be very effective.

A great smile is the best calling card you can present, and that is why today, we are here to help you overcome your fear of the dentist using modern techniques.

1. Themessl-Huber M, Freeman R, Humphris G, et al. Empirical evidence of the relationship between parental and child dental fear: a structured review and meta-analysis. Int J Paediatr Dent. 2010;20:83–101. 11. Text of footnote 1
Dr Victoria Masserey Klimovich
Dr Victoria Masserey Klimovich

Orthodontist at Dental Geneva practice.
Master of Orthodontics from the University of King's College London. Member of the European Orthodontic society and Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.