What is the fear of the dentist and how is dental anxiety?

You know the fear to the darkness, to some animals, to travel in certain means of transport, to clowns … but did you know that there are people who fear the dentists? And we're not talking about what they charge you every time you're going to fix a tooth, no, but the fact of go to consultation.

It is true that these professionals are not the favorite character or profession of many. Is phobia leads to a deterioration of oral health and it has very serious consequences for a person's body. To have dental anxiety From the analytical point of view, it is the result of the confrontation of the subject in the face of danger or as an affective syndrome in which diverse emotions such as fear converge, to which cultural contents are added.

Even though in Spain there are not enough data to be able to make a prevalence estimate, worldwide this disease has been very studied. It can vary from 4% to 20% in the US and from 3% to 19.5% in European countries.

Vicious circle

According to a study conducted by Paloma Pérez Prieto at the University of Valencia, "the consequences are devastating and conform a health barrier of universal dimension". Avoiding dental treatment, cancellations of visits and distance between them have not only been considered as the result of dental anxiety and fear but have been named as factors capable of predicting that the subject will suffer. Which means that it is the whiting that kills the tail because the less you go and the more fear you have, the more symptomatology and bucondental pathology appears.

Most people who suffer from dental anxiety can only be treated with conscious sedation, which generates a long waiting list

When the patient goes to the dentist, anxiety levels are very high, since he expects the treatment is more painful and complicated. But it's not just that, too more extensive and expensive. This whole set finally leads to a increase in fear to which is added the appearance of feelings of guilt, shame and inferiority: a pattern of real deterioration and self-perpetuation is established.

Obsessive thoughts, weakening of social relationships or decrease of pain threshold they are also some of the consequences that can appear. Those affected have greater generalized fears and ultimately go to the dentist when there is no other remedy and when the stress situation can with them, reverberating also in the professional.


One problem with these patients is that they can only be treated with one conscious sedation. It can only be provided by dentists who have the experience and capacity for this type of intervention. Gas or sedative medications can help you feel more relaxed and calm during dental procedures. In more extreme cases, can be referred to a general anesthetic performed in a hospital.

Dentists who treat these people with these specialized techniques often have a long waiting list, which also leads to many find themselves in a difficult situation or in great pain, but they feel too scared to follow a standard treatment.

What can be done?

One option that certain hospitals and practices are using in the UK is the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help patients overcome their dental phobia. A previous study from King's College London found that this was very effective for those suffering from this condition, which allowed them to overcome their fear of visiting the dentist and even allow them to receive treatment without sedation.

Having a phobia of the dentist leads to poorer health. In addition, it can affect the speech, the way of eating and the smile

Something that is also investigated is the way offer more personalized advice on oral hygiene: a better brushing technique or a guide to stop smoking. The hope is that having more knowledge will lead them to feel more confident about their oral cleaning, which should help to prevent more diseases and reduce the anxiety associated with this visit. Ultimately, any phobia can be difficult to manage, but when it comes to one that affects your daily health and quality of life, effects can be devastating.