Dental Anxiety

Fears associated with seeing a dentist are common and range from mild concerns during an appointment to complete avoidance of necessary interventions. Dental anxiety can prevent patients from getting the treatment they need. Postponing treatment can result in additional pain, helping to reinforce fear of the dentist as the pain becomes associated with the visit. We understand that for some of our patients coming to the dentist is a monumental task and we want to help. Have you found ways that help you cope? Share your personal needs with your dentist or hygienist so that they can accommodate you. We offer Nitrous Oxide gas to help you relax and can prescribe medication prior to your appointment that will lessen your anxiety. There is no shame in feeling afraid. We are here to help you get the treatment you need.

We are proud to partner with Equanimity Partners,an evidence-based psychotherapy clinic. They specialize in behavioral health interventions, including dental anxiety treatment. Usually 1-4 sessions can help to alleviate the fear so that patients can complete dental treatment. The effects of these types of interventions tend to be broad and permanent. There’s no need to avoid the dentist ever again.

Contact Equanimity Partners for more information at 734-531-6176 or . The website is

Equanimity Partners is conveniently located adjacent to Gentle Dental. Regular free Introduction to Treatment of Dental Anxiety seminars are available. Feel free to sign up to see if this treatment is right for you.

FAQs About Dental Anxiety

What is dental anxiety?

Dental anxiety is feeling so nervous or fearful about a visit to the dentist that it interferes with your dental care and health. It can occur as fear of pain, needles, the drill, simply not knowing what may happen, or being out of control.

What causes dental anxiety?

There are many causes of anxiety. When people hear stories about difficult dental visits, or experience some pain themselves, they often feel afraid of the potential pain associated with a procedure and things related to that pain such as needles, the sounds, sights and smells of a dental office, and many other features of the visit. Fear sensations such as sweaty palms, butterflies in the stomach, and a racing heart may develop. Attempts to control those sensations and the associated thoughts make the thoughts and feelings grow instead of shrink. Soon, the problem is overwhelming and a person may avoid going to the dentist altogether. Avoidance often results in more pain, and growing avoidance.

How can anxiety affect my dental health?

It can cause you to avoid going to the dentist when needed to treat current problems or prevent future problems. It can also cause you to have difficulty during a procedure, complicating it in various ways such as lengthening the time it takes, increasing the amount of anesthesia needed, causing unnecessary pain, or preventing you from completing the procedure.

How can I reduce dental anxiety?

Cognitive behavior therapy is very effective in reducing dental anxiety for most people. With 1-4 appointments most people can attend 75% of their scheduled appointments in the following year. The treatment involves learning how to induce relaxation and then pairing that relaxed state with all of the features of a dental appointment. This is done first using imagination, and eventually in person in the dentist’s office. The client has control over the pace of the treatment. We are compassionate collaborators in helping clients meet the challenge of getting comfortable in the dental office.

What dental concerns can this approach address?

It can help:

Make dental procedures easier, reducing:

  • Needle phobia
  • Need for anesthesia and pain medications
  • Pain, bleeding, swelling, bruising, scarring
  • Recovery time
  • Feeling overwhelmed, crying, and clenching during an appointment

Alleviate a variety of dental problems including:

  • TMJ (tense jaw)
  • Teeth grinding
  • Gum deterioration
  • Discomfort with braces or dentures

Promote prevention:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Self-care motivation and habits such as flossing

When is this approach useful in dental care?

It can help when:

  • Anxiety prevents you from visiting the dentist
  • Anxiety makes it difficult or impossible to complete procedures
  • Stress is causing dental problems
  • Anesthesia is not a good option
  • Pain medication does not work or is not a good option
  • You use anti-anxiety drugs to prepare for a dental visit

What about cost?

This is a very brief therapy, usually taking few sessions. Equanimity Partners uses a sliding scale and accepts some insurances, making it affordable for most people. It can cut the costs of dental care including time and expense of procedures, anesthesia and medication. All of the Equanimity Partners therapists are specialists in cognitive behavior therapy and have Master’s or Doctoral degrees in psychology. They have between 5 and 20 years of experience treating anxiety. All treatment is supervised by a fully licensed clinical psychologist.

We would love to be partners in helping you smile again.

sesame communicationsWebsite Powered by Sesame 24-7™