Dental Practice Management : 10 Types of Dental Phobias Why People Are Scared of Dentists?

In Dental Practice Management you must learn to manage Dental Phobias. Only then you can have a successful career as a dental practitioner

The most important aspect of Dental Practice Management is the ability of a dentist to manage and reduce the dental phobias of the patient.

PHOBIA: It means something an Individual is afraid of.

And we as dental surgeons need to tackle a particular phobia that is in direct conflict with our profession.

That phobia is

Dental Phobia: The Fear of Visiting a Dentist.

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So in this post, we will decode the most common reasons

as to why so many people fear dentists?

This knowledge of what the patients fear will give us ideas as to how we can reduce this fear and make the experience of the patients as comfortable as possible.

Benefits in Knowing about the

Dental Phobias of your patients

  1. By knowing about the dental phobias of your patients, you will be in a better position to reduce the fear.
  2. Reducing patient’s anxiety will build their trust in you and your dental practice. 
  3. They will be more inclined to visit your dental practice in the case of future dental needs and would happily recommend your dental set up to their friends and family. It will be very rewarding to the dentist financially and socially.

Let us start with the First Fear of Patients

Dental Phobia #1 

The Needle & The Drill

Even if a patient has never been to a dentist’s clinic before, but he or she must have heard about the legendary myths of needles and syringes.

  1. By default, people are scared of drills and needles that pierce and go inside the teeth or skin.
  2. Many people are sensitive to the sound of the drill.
  3. Many are so scared of Drill sound and Needle appearance that even before actually any procedure is done, they just jump in the dental chair and start making sounds. 

This not only makes the treatment difficult but also increases the treatment time.

At the end, both the patient and the dentist are at a loss. 

This phobia is something that is very difficult to control because as a dentist cannot just stop using the drill. So, the best way to tackle phobia is to sit with the patient and explain him/her that proper pain control techniques will be taken by administering Local Aesthetic agents.

In this scenario the skill of a dentist to interact and make the patient comfortable matters a lot.

Dental Phobia #2 

The Fear of Pain

Is it Going to Pain?

Though over the years dentistry has evolved a not scientifically and pharmaceutically, that not reduce the pain and bleeding but also help in post-treatment healing. The anesthesia has now become very potent providing the patients a very painless dentistry.

But the irony is in spite of so many advancements, the phobia still persists. Partly due to low awareness among the patients regarding the advancements and partly due to believing the age-old myths.

This fear is so strong that many people sit and wait with their decayed & painful tooth rather than visiting the nearest dentist.

See Next Slide for the 3rd

Why People Fear Dentists#3

Dental Phobia #3

The Childhood Bad Experience at Dentist

Many times the fear of visiting a dentist for treatment stems from the painful dental experience the patient had as a child.

The impressions and fear that get ingrained in childhood, persist for a very long time.

Many times parents keep threatening their kids (when they get too naughty) that they will be taken to dentists. This constant reinforcement of fear of dentists – leads to life-long fear of dentists.

Also, there are definite incidences when as kids patients had a real horrible experience at the dentist and such experience stays for a long time.

So, the moment a need to go a dentist comes up the latent hidden fear comes up making the patient immediately uncomfortable. This negative attitude the patient carries into dental clinic also.

So even a simple use of mouth mirror become a big problem.

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See Next Slide for the 4th & 5th Reason

Why People Fear Dentists 

Dental Phobia #4

The Invasive Nature of Dental Treatments 

Pic Credit : imgur

A visit to a dentist is very personal in nature.

I am a dentist myself, but when I visited one of my colleagues for the extraction of my 3rd Molars, I had a first-hand experience of how invasive, intrusive and personal the whole dental procedure was for me.

And so it must be the same for all the patients, I and you treat in our dental clinic set ups.

This intrusive nature of dental procedures makes it too hard mentally for many patients. They are not able to cross the mental barrier of the fear and thus the phobia for dentists persists.

Dental Phobia #5

The Smell of Dental Clinic

Smell is one of the most powerful senses for any individual. Good smell creates a pleasant feeling but any bad or hard odor world in the opposite way. Your dental clinic also has a distinct smell and many patients associate that smell with fear.

  1. When a patient comes to a dental clinic for treatment, he/her is already in a very anxious state. In such a frame of mind, the senses are highly alert and receptive. 
  2. In such a time many patients find the antiseptic feeling/smell of the dental clinic very intrusive. Also, the smell/sight of blood in case of dental extraction, the smell of tooth being cut – all these add up to the phobia of the dental procedure. 

So, as a Dentist, it’s one of the paramount importance that we the dentists take care of this aspect. We will see all the details in the next article.

See Next Slide for 6th & 7th Reason

Why People Fear Dentists 

Dental Phobia #6

Dental Extraction: The Fear Point

  1. One of the most common procedures carried out in a Dental Clinic is Tooth Extraction.
  2. Every dentist knows that he/she must be good at extraction to lay the foundation of a successful dental clinic.

image credits : pixabay

Tooth extraction is one aspect of the dental visit that most of the patients are afraid of.

  1. The sight of the extraction forceps, the fear of removing the tooth and the imagination of possible side effects make the patients very anxious and scared.
  2. On top of that, some patients come up with really weird myths associated with tooth extraction they get to know from the internet and other people. 

Dental Phobia #7

Many Patients Just Feel Embarrassed 

Many patients are afraid or hesitant to visit a dentist as they feel embarrassed and awkward to exhibit their badly managed tooth. Yes, this type of fear is a fact and many patients avoid a visit to the dentist for weeks to months to years, just for this phobia.

See Next Slide for 8th & 9th 

Why People Fear Dentists 

Dental Phobia #8

Fear of Gagging, Chocking & Infections at Clinic

image credits : imgur

  • Many patients are increasingly getting worried and even paranoid of getting infections at the dental clinic. Yes, they should be cautious as if proper sterilization is not carried out then there are chances of cross infection. 
  • But any well respected dental practice will never compromise on the sterilization and infection as it will not only lead to a very bad name for his/her practice but potential chances of being sued for millions by the patients. 
  • But this fear of infection is one of the major dental related phobia present in the new generation of patients. 
  • Other than infections many patients are also afraid of gagging or choking on small dental instruments etc. 

Dental Phobia #9

The Fear of Not Being in Control

Going to a dentist and submitting to the diagnosis and treatment procedure, for many patients, is like giving up the control or rather its like

“Not Being in Control”

Visiting a dentist requires submitting completely with trust to the treatment. It requires trusting a dentist completely and that can be very tough for many patients. This is one of the most understated reasons why patients are uncomfortable visiting a dentist.

And if we want to succeed as a Dentist in this highly competitive time, we need to behave and work in such a way that the patients have a complete unrelenting faith on us. Remember you can build this faith only when your are not only good in your communication skills but also good in your clinical knowledge and work.

See Next Slide

The Most common reason for People Fearing Dentist 

The Cost Factor 

Dental Phobia #10

The Cost Factor: Money Matters

It’s the 20th century and agree or not the world revolves around: MONEY

But it can be a deal breaker depending on the type of patient you are dealing with.

Pic Credit: Art Work By: LittleWing 2 

  1. For some patients, the dental treatment is of paramount importance and they place a premium value on it. Such patients won’t mind paying the price if they feel you as a dentist are providing a good service. 
  2. Some patients – who don’t place much value on maintaining dental health, they will always have a problem in accepting the prices of dental treatments. 

In some cases the dentists also overvalue their treatment price and that many times leads to a generalized view that the dental treatments are very costly. Many patients are afraid of dentists just for the fear that it will be costing them a lot.

This situation can only be improved by the collective efforts by the dentists coming together.

See Next Slide To Know The Last Point Why Patients Fear Dentists & What You as a Dentist Can Do to Change That

Go Next 

Dental Phobia #11

Stressful & Poor Service

It’s nothing hidden that any visit to a doctor can be stressful and dentists unknowingly do few things that increase the stress level of the patients. These few points might feel like there are nothing much to care about but overdo these points – the stress level of patients increases.


  1. Dentists many times get carried away. As a dentist, you must have a control over how much you lecture the patient. You might feel that by over lecturing you might be molding the patient for dental treatment but on the contrary, it might be leading to increased stress for the patient. In such case, there are two easy ways. 
  2. Listen & Respond: Listen to what the patient is saying and talk to the point. Don’t over explain and also don’t hide anything out of the fear that you might lose a patient client. There is a very fine balance and you will get to know it with experience. 


  1. Professional Dental Practice is a service oriented business and much of the success in it depends on how much good service the patients are receiving.
  2. Good service doesn’t mean just good dental work by the dentist, it also means that other staffs in the dental clinic behave properly with the patients and make them feel cared for.
  3. The experience of facing a dental treatment is just not as isolated experience, it’s a complete package for work, ambiance with before and after the experience at the clinic.

Concluding Slide

Are patients Afraid to Visit Your Clinic?

Are patients Afraid to Visit Your Clinic?

image credits : pixabay

In the last few slides we have seen the points that make a Patient afraid to visit your Dental Clinic.

Do you feel some of the points are applicable to you as a Dentist or your Dental Practice?

Then it’s time to analyze these aspects of your dental practice and patients.

Remember, as health professionals it’s our duty to channelize the fear and doubts of our patients towards positivity and awareness. 

The job of a Dentist starts the moment a patient enters into the dental practice.

  1. You will need to understand the personality of the patient.
  2. You will need to understand and listen to the problem of the patient.
  3. You will also need to reduce and manage any dental phobia the patient might have.
  4. You will need to carry out the procedure correctly without any complications.
  5. You will also need to manage the patient post-procedure.

So, it’s a long series of actions that you need to be very good at, to succeed in your clinical practice.

In such a case it’s essential that you know about the various types of dental phobias so that you can handle them when a patient exhibits dental phobia.

That will, by default improve your dental practice as a whole both Financially and Socially.

You may like to read: How to Tackle the Fear of Patients and also how to effectively manage the patients?


How Effectively you are able to reduce the Phobia of visiting a dentist in your patients ? How effectively you are able to do the treatment without inducing any more pain in your patient ? How is the overall experience of your patient after they complete their treatment and go home ?