Dental care fears more or less strong feelings of discomfort in connection with a dental visit. You worry that it will hurt and that something may go wrong. You who are in the dentist’s chair may also feel very exposed, in a situation that you do not control.

A large part of the adult population feels discomfort before a dental visit. Most people manage the visit if they receive a good response and pain relief during treatment. Others may feel strong discomfort but still make their dental visit.

What is Dental Fear?

Almost five percent of the adult population has such a strong dental fear that it avoids dental care completely. It is called dental phobia and is one of the most common phobias.
If you have a strong fear and anxiety it can make you avoid dental visits. Over time, you may get more pain or trouble which in turn can intensify the fear.
Avoiding dental visits can lead to poorer dental health, such as tooth loss. Poor dental health can also affect your self-confidence and make intercourse with others difficult.

When should I seek care?

There is help to get if you have dental care, and it is important to get help as early as possible. You may already have contact with a dentist or dental hygienist for whom you feel confident. You can also look for a dental clinic where patients with dental fear are treated. Here you can find dental care. You can also contact a health care center and ask for a referral to a dentist who has the training to treat dental fear.


It is important to tell the dentist or dental hygienist that you are scared. Then you do not needlessly hide your fears and expose yourself to things that can be difficult. Just talking about the problems makes the fear more manageable. It will also be easier for the therapist to adapt the treatment to your wishes. Talking about your fear usually means that you get more information about what will happen and thus gain better control over the treatment. It is also good to ask questions.

What can I do for myself?

Ask for a break in the dental treatment if you feel it is needed. If you know that stress affects your body and makes it tense, you can try to practice yourself on some simple relaxation method. For example, you can concentrate on breathing calmly with your stomach. You can ask your dentist, dental hygienist or dentist for help reminding them.

Relaxation Treatment

It may be good to learn some relaxation techniques that you can use during dental visits. There are many different methods to choose from. Methods that are easy to learn are primarily based on breathing exercises or on various forms of muscle relaxation.

One of the most common treatment methods for dental fear involves a combination of relaxation and habits. You will first learn an effective method of relaxation and then you will train to maintain the relaxation while you are in various dental care situations. You start with something that is quite easy to handle. Step by step you will arrive at what you initially thought was the most difficult to endure.

Ask for stunning

Treatment should be as painless as possible. It is better to get anesthesia than to undergo painful treatments. If you are afraid of syringes, you can get help with that part of the treatment. You can ask to have the anesthetic ointment where the syringe should be given.

Help create positive experiences

In all treatment of dental fear, it is important that the therapist and you together try to create new, positive experiences of dental care. You then build an ability to handle the treatment situation by reducing anxiety and fear. This can be done by relaxing and processing negative emotions, thoughts, and experiences.

Dental care should be performed in peace and quiet under your full control. It is important that you know in advance what will happen and that you go through each treatment step with the therapist before practicing or implementing it. If it feels uncomfortable, stop and restart after talking about the experience.

Change negative thoughts

Much of the fear one can experience is based on negative thoughts. If you are afraid, you already have negative thoughts from the beginning that will make you experience and interpret dental care more negatively. It is therefore important to change these thoughts so that you can look differently at the treatment and your own reactions.

Nitrogen and sedative medicines

When treated with the aid of nitrous oxide, you can inhale a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide through a mask. The nitrous oxide is both soothing and pain-relieving. During treatment, you are calmer but at full consciousness. The goal is that you will eventually be able to do most, or all dental treatment, without nitrous oxide.

Sometimes soothing medications are used to reduce dental worry as well as urgently needed dental care.

Especially dental support

There is special support for adults who have extreme dental fear, ie dental phobia.

The rules may vary between the county councils and the regions, but everywhere you can get the dental care itself treated with the same fee and with the high-cost protection that applies in ordinary health care. Most often, part of the cost of dental care is included in the high-cost protection.

A requirement for the support is that the investigation and treatment is done in collaboration between the dental care and a psychiatrist, psychologist or psychotherapist. The special support is intended to be used to treat the fear.

To be considered extreme dental scare, you should have avoided dental care for an extended period of time, apart from short-term emergency procedures, or previously received dental care under anesthesia due to dental care. Following the investigation, a treatment plan, which is being tested by the county council or region, is formulated on an ordering unit for dental care. The goal of the treatment is to get rid of dental phobia so that you can go through regular dental treatment.

Psychologist, or equivalent, and dentists work together and decide with you on a suitable treatment where different methods can be combined. One method can be cognitive behavioral therapy, KBT, when you, in conversation with the therapist, learn how fear affects you and how fear and negative experiences are counteracted with different strategies. Then various parts of the dental treatment are practiced together with the dentist until it feels better.

Dental care under anesthesia

Dental care under anesthesia means that you are anesthetized by an anesthetist and that the dental treatment is performed while you are anesthetized.

Anesthesia treatment is not usually counted on the methods that cure dental fear, but anesthesia means that a lot of dental care can be performed at one and the same time. It may mean a fresh start and, after the dental treatment itself, it may be easier to proceed with the treatment of the fear. Eventually, you should be able to go to the dentist regularly without being afraid.

Ehtisham Nadeem

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