To Beat Dental Fear, You Need to Understand It


Have you got dental fear? If so, you’re not alone. Dentophobia, or fear of the dentist, is No. 16 on a list of 33 common fears on Ranker. According to the list, more people fear going to the dentist than flying, vomiting, or dogs.

At Alabama Family Dental, we hope you’ll give us a chance to help you beat your dental fear. Our Mobile, AL team has many years of experience in calming anxious patients. You can also get dental sedation, which will relax you if you’re nervous about a procedure.

To talk to us about sedation, or anything else, call 251-241-0890.

3 Common Types of Dental Fear

Experts like Peter Milgrom, DDS, author of “Treating Fearful Dental Patients” and director of the Dental Fears Research Clinic at the University of Washington in Seattle, say there are three common categories of dental fear:

  • Fear of pain. According to a Canadian study, people were more likely to experience pain if they had dental anxiety, had a previous painful experience at the dentist, or expected their dental procedures to be painful.
  • Fear of embarrassment. Our Dr. James Whatley and other dentists must get pretty close to look into your mouth for exams and other dental treatments. This bothers folks who may be embarrassed by the condition of their teeth or those who simply feel uneasy with a relative stranger in their personal space.
  • Fear of loss of control. Some people feel they have no control over their circumstances during dental procedures.

Sedation Can Help You Face Your Dental Fear

Many people find sedation helpful in overcoming their dental fear, especially if they’re worried a procedure might be painful. We offer two safe forms of sedation:

  • Inhaled sedation, or “laughing gas.” You receive this sedation through a small mask you wear over your nose. It will make you groggy and less aware of your surroundings – but you’ll still be able to easily communicate with us. It takes effect quickly and wears off quickly too – so quickly you’ll even be able to drive yourself home if you’d like. It’s so safe, even young children can receive it!
  • Oral sedation. You take an FDA-approved medication for a deeper level of relaxation. We’ll provide a pill that you take an hour or so before your appointment so you arrive already relaxed and stay that way throughout your procedure. Oral sedation is a good choice for lengthy procedures. The sedation takes a while to wear off, so you’ll need to get someone else to drive you home.

No matter which type of sedation you choose, our staff will monitor you throughout your treatment. Even if you’re not nervous or fearful, sedation can make it easier to remain still and keep your mouth open for extended periods. It can also help control a sensitive gag reflex.

5 Tips for Dealing With Dental Fear

While sedation is an option, here are five other tips that can help you overcome your dental fear.

  • Talk to Dr. Whatley about any procedure that concerns you, whether it’s a teeth cleaning or a tooth extraction. Ask as many questions as you’d like. He’ll be happy to explain, and you’ll know exactly what to expect. We use an intraoral camera, which allows Dr. Whatley to show you what he sees inside your mouth. He can easily point out any dental issues that need to be addressed.
  • Use a distraction. Consider listening to favorite music during dental procedures.
  • Bring a family member or friend to your appointment. Most people feel more at ease having a buddy who can provide moral support.
  • Book an early morning appointment to get your visit out of the way so you don’t spend any of your day fretting about it. Our Mobile, AL office opens at 8 a.m. six days a week.
  • Don’t postpone dental treatment. Never delay getting dental attention if you think you have a problem. You may be nervous if you think you need a tooth filling. But your anxiety will only increase if the situation worsens enough to require a dental crown or root canal.

Call Alabama Family Dental at 251-241-0890 to beat your dental fear.