5 Types of Dental Fear That Keep You Away From The Dentist

August 12, 2019

Author : Dr. Spiro Condos

There’s something strange about our teeth – they’re in our mouth, and we use them every day. But they also can be easy to ignore. Out of sight – out of mind, so they say. Until something’s wrong. In this post, I describe the five types of dental fear that keep so many people away from the dentist, until something is really wrong.

Most big dental problems start out as small ones. Often a minor cavity that could have filled in one office visit with little or no discomfort is ignored until it becomes a significant problem that requires much more extensive treatment.

Or, at a checkup, the dentist says, “Come back, so we take care of this small problem,” something and we think, “OK, I’ll come in when I have the time.” But they don’t. Most people who need extensive dentistry only need it because they waited too long.

So, why do people ignore their dental problems? One word – dental FEAR. Fear is the #1 reason people ignore small dental problems.


There Are 5 Types of Dental Fear


Although fear of pain is at the top of the list, there are actually five types of dental fear that keep people from going to the dentist 

1. Fear of Pain

You feel a little twinge and think, “Oh, it’s nothing…it will go away.” Because you’re afraid of the pain. Dentists are keenly aware that many patients experienced pain in the dentist chair – mainly when they were children. But, we have more ways than ever to keep away the pain and discomfort that used to be the norm. Everything from laughing gas, to Novocain, and even general anesthesia is available. Just ask.

2. Fear of the Time Involved

With today’s busy lives, the idea of having to miss work while you spend hours and hours in the dentist’s chair can be…scary. However, in most cases, even serious ones, they don’t generally require more than one or two procedures. Visits are usually short, and most people go right back to work afterward.

3. Fear of Radiation Exposure

Modern dental x-rays produce very low radiation. A full set of dental x-rays is the equivalent of one chest x-ray. And don’t need to be taken every time you go to the dentist. Digital x-rays, which are the standard in most offices today, expose patients to far less radiation than taking a flight from New York to LA.

Here’s my New York Times letter to the editor about dental x-rays.

4. Fear of Expense

Dentistry can be expensive. But, when the cost is high is usually when a small problem was ignored and became a big one. Most dentists, myself included, work with our patients to minimize the cost. All you have to do is ask.

5. Fear of Embarrassment

If your small dental problem became a big one because you were afraid to go to the dentist, don’t be embarrassed. Dentists only want to help you, not be judgmental. Most people have ignored a dental problem at one time or another. Dentists deal with this situation every day and tend not to be judgmental.

However, if a dentist shames or embarrasses you for not coming in sooner, it’s time to find a new dentist.


If you’ve avoided going to the dentist because of dental fear: fear of pain, fear of the time involved, fear of the expense, fear of embarrassment, or all of them, please realize that dentists are sensitive to your issues. You are not the only one. 

So, go to your checkups and get your small dental problems taken care of right away – so you don’t end up with a big one. 

The American Dental Association has some great tips for overcoming dental fear and anxiety. You can see them here. 


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