Understanding Dental Fear: Unraveling the Causes

The Impact of Pain on Dental Fear: Solutions and Strategies

People develop dental anxieties and phobias for many different reasons. When researchers interview patients, however, a few common themes emerge. The most recurring theme is pain.


One solution is the use of topical anesthetics. Of course, there are other tricks and distractions that we all employ – wiggling the tissue, heavy pressure, or a quick movement to load the sensory input prior to the insertion of the needle, and they all work. But the single most important determinant of comfortable dental injections is the use of topical anesthetic for an appropriate time before getting your patient numb. It’s good to be known as painless.

Anxiety | Dental Bonding Port St. John FL

Psychological Factors: Helplessness, Loss of Control, and Anxiety

While pain may top the list of things at the root of dental fear, there are a few additional factors that researchers uncovered. These include feelings of helplessness and loss of control – Many people develop phobias about situations — such as flying in an airplane — in which they feel they have no control. When they’re in the dental chair, they have to stay still. They may feel they can’t see what’s going on or predict what’s going to hurt. It’s common for people to feel helpless and out of control, which may trigger anxiety.

The Role of Embarrassment in Dental Fear: Overcoming Intimacy Concerns

The mouth is an intimate part of the body. People may feel ashamed or embarrassed to have a stranger looking inside. This may be a particular problem if they’re self-conscious about how their teeth look. Dental treatments also require physical closeness. During a treatment, the hygienist’s or dentist’s face may be just a few inches away. This can make people anxious and uncomfortable.

Negative Past Experiences: A Significant Contributor to Dental Fear

 Anyone who has had pain or discomfort during previous dental procedures is likely to be more anxious the next time around. While these causes seem obvious and are likely things you regularly experience with the patients in your practice, many studies have found that a key tactic for mitigating dental fear is using proper patient education.

Communicating with Dental Fear: The Tell-Show-Do Technique

When it comes to communicating with your patients, one common practice that is used in pediatric dentistry — which can really be applied to patients of all ages — is the tell-show-do technique. A Harvard dentist coined this phrase and revolutionized the procedure in the 1970s to help deal with children who feared the unknown. The technique involves verbal explanations of procedures in phrases appropriate to the developmental level of the patient (tell); demonstrations for the patient of the visual, auditory, olfactory, and tactile aspects of the procedure in a carefully defined, non-threatening setting (show); and then, without deviating from the explanation and demonstration, completion of the procedure (do). The tell-show-do technique is used with communication skills (verbal and nonverbal) and positive reinforcement. This technique serves as a form of desensitization, which is beneficial because the dentist can do it during the intended procedure instead of the patient seeking preliminary therapy. At its core, the dentist is building trust with the patient by illustrating the procedure and leaving no “unknowns” on the table.

Modernizing Patient Education: The Power of Video

With that in mind, you might ask yourself, “What is the best strategy for educating my patients?” Leveraging the power of video to communicate with your patients while the 40-year-old technique of tell-show-do is still practical, we must ask ourselves if there is a way to modernize it — utilizing today’s technologies to maximize the effectiveness of the tried-and-true method. The answer to achieving such a thing lies in leveraging visual media. The most powerful form of visual media available is certainly video-based. Whether it is a short clip on social media, a television show, or a documentary, research continues to support the effectiveness of videos and animations. The beauty of this medium is that it is now readily accessible, easy to use, and captures the attention of all age groups and demographics.

Join the Farah Dentistry family in Conquering your Fear of the Dentist.

Embrace the journey to optimal oral health and discover the beauty of your smile with Farah Dentistry in Titusville, FL.

We are more than a dental clinic – your dedicated partner in achieving dental excellence. Choose Farah Dentistry for transformative experiences that align with your quest for a radiant and confident smile. 


Schedule your appointment today to explore our comprehensive services, including teeth whitening, composite resins, inlays and onlays, dental bonding, dental bridges, dental fillings, veneers, dental crowns, root canals, dentures, family dentistry, dental implants, extractions, and wisdom teeth extractions. Trust in the expertise of the best dentist and take the first step toward the smile you deserve!

ABOUT John E. Farah, D.M.D.

ABOUT John E. Farah, D.M.D.

Dr. John Farah continues the responsibilities of our practice. His experience and skills offer a commitment to provide the quality of dental care that we have always taken pride in providing you. Our practice is founded on an honest approach to personalized dental care. Not every patient’s needs, or resources are the same, so we have always believed in trying to give our patients autonomy in making guided and well-informed decisions. Part of our philosophy has always been about creating relaxing, meaningful, and personal experiences for each patient that comes in our door and because of that, many patients are still with us today carrying restorations from 40 years ago.
Dr. John Farah provides high quality service in a comfortable setting. He believes every patient deserves a healthy smile with an enjoyable experience.

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