HomeHealth articlesdentophobiaDentophobia (Odontophobia) - Causes | Common Fear | Symptoms

Dentophobia (Odontophobia) - Causes, Common Fear and Symptoms

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Fear of a dentist or a dental treatment is called dentophobia or odontophobia. This article provides details on dentophobia and some tricks for fighting it.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Sneha Kannan

Published At May 5, 2022
Reviewed AtFebruary 20, 2023

What Is Dentophobia?

Phobia means fear of something or someone. We might have come across so many phobias in our day-to-day lives, but this particular phobia is something almost anyone and everyone could have. That is fear of a dentist or a dental visit called dentophobia, also known as odontophobia. Dentophobia has conquered most of the population, even those without a prior dental experience, as it is like a contagious disease that spreads from person to person when someone gives a bad opinion about a dental visit. This phobia has made people delay even the necessary treatments and consider them trivial to the dental fear.

How Important Is a Dental Visit?

A dental visit is nothing but a necessity for good oral health. It ensures that the oral cavity is checked at regular intervals for problems ranging from mild tartar (deposits) to oral cancer. Most dental problems occur due to following a wrong lifestyle pattern and can be treated with minor alterations in lifestyle and conservative dental treatments. Detecting a dental problem earlier can help the patient get lesser invasive treatments and be treated at ease without wanting to go through discomfort, thereby making the dental experience more comfortable. Falling back on dental appointments worsens the existing dental problem resulting in pain and discomfort.

What Are the Causes of Dentophobia?

The common causes of dentophobia or odontophobia include;

Past Experience:

The person fearing a dentist or dental treatment might have had a distressing past dental encounter, which makes them dread dental visits.

Familial History:

  • If the odontophobia person previously accompanied a family member or friend when undergoing dental treatment and had an unpleasant experience.

  • If a family member gives negative feedback about the dental experience, the person listening could acquire odontophobia even without having a dental encounter of their own.

  • Parents taunting their children with the need for a dental appointment if they fail to maintain good oral hygiene portrays the dentist as a scary person to the child and develops a fear of dentists or dentophobia.


  • Those with insecurities about their oral hygiene and the alignment, appearance, and color of their teeth.

  • Persons who suffer trust issues; fear that if the dentist is well-experienced, only then they can do the procedure correctly, and so on.

  • People who consider examining their oral cavity as a breach into their personal space.

Other Fears:

  • Fear of losing teeth.

  • Fear of pain, needles, blood, sharp instruments, fear of ingestion of dental equipment or materials, fear of choking, etc.

  • Fear of getting taunted or insulted for not maintaining good oral hygiene.


Persons with a high tendency to overthink or overimagine after reading about dental treatments. Those with other phobias or people who fear easily by nature.


People who have germaphobia very often wonder about the clinic's hygiene and equipment, which triggers their fear factor.

Other Psychological Conditions:

Patients who are suffering from anxiety or panic disorders, other phobias such as fear of a doctor, fear of touch, fear of vomiting, etc., carry a high risk of developing a dentophobia.

What Are the Common Fear Triggers in a Dental Clinic?

  • Some dental clinical setups can themselves act as a fear trigger in a dentophobia person.

  • Anyone who has had a dental visit will know how noisy dental machines are; these sounds produced by the dental machines can make anyone without a previous experience or someone with a bad dental encounter fear nonetheless.

  • The dental focus light that is directed at the patient's mouth could act as a triggering factor.

  • Dental instruments; Introducing sharp tools into the mouth might cause anxiety in some.

  • The thought of going to a dental clinic or meeting a dentist itself can instigate fear in a dentophobia person.

What Are the Symptoms in a Person With Odontophobia?

A person with odontophobia might have symptoms ranging from mild to severe, depending upon how severe the fear is and how well the person handles it. The common symptoms of dentophobia include;

  • Feeling nervous immediately after entering a dental clinic.

  • Sleeplessness on the previous night before the dental appointment thinking of the dental visit.

  • Rapid heartbeat.

  • Feeling dizzy and restless.

  • Nausea.

  • Vomiting immediately after the dentist introduces a dental instrument.

  • Shivering and feeling cold.

  • Crying or expressing emotions when asked to get a dental treatment or while getting one.

  • Upset stomach on the day of the dental appointment.

  • Panic attacks.

How to Overcome Dentophobia?

The following steps, if practiced properly, can come a long way in overcoming dentophobia. Dentophobia is a psychological issue that can be corrected with utmost patient cooperation and the patient's will to overcome it. Here are a few tips for overcoming dentophobia:

  • Always trust any dentist consulted, even if you do not know them personally. Every dentist would have studied their subject and are well aware of what they are doing; also, they would have similar patients previously, so trust them.

  • Communicate the feelings about getting a dental treatment, the fears faced, and the discomfort encountered by the dentist. Once the dentist knows the fears and how to make the patient feel comfortable, they will modify their treatment accordingly.

  • Take one step at a time. Start with the least invasive one, which obviously is getting a dental checkup when starting a dental journey.

  • When you have a dental appointment fixed, to know what goes about in a dental appointment, try to accompany close ones who are well aware of dental visits.

  • Make sure not to expect every dentist encountered to be the same and to be following the same treatment methods. Each dentist has their own way of treating patients.

  • Take deep and slow breaths before the dental appointment to ease and feel fine before the dental treatment.

  • While undergoing treatment, carry a headphone to listen to calming music during the procedure and block the dental machines' unpleasant sounds.

  • Feel free to ask the dentist for breaks during the procedure when there is discomfort.

For Dentists:

What Can a Dentist Do to Make a Dentophobiac Comfortable?

  • Make the patient comfortable as and when they enter the dental clinic.

  • The receptionist plays a major role in comforting an anxious patient as they are the first person that a patient encounters in a clinic; the receptionist should make sure they do not behave rudely, make them comfortable, and handle the patient with care.

  • Explain the procedure to be performed in detail and clear out the patient's doubts with patience.

  • Make sure to obtain patient consent before undergoing the procedure.

  • Assure the patient that the procedures will be performed with utmost care.

  • Do not rush the patient into getting procedures that are not an emergency. Explain to them the advantages of getting the procedure and wait for them to decide.

  • Schedule comfortable and less invasive procedures in the first appointment.

  • Maintain proper communication with the patient.

  • Play soft and calming music and set distractions for the patient.

  • Make sure to understand the patient's fears and needs and know that pain tolerance varies with the person.

  • Fix appointments with dentophobia patients in the less busy hours or early mornings.

What Are the Medical Approaches to Dentophobia?

  1. Behavioral Therapies: Therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy help the person with a dentophobia overcome the fears by changing the person's perspective toward worldly things and events.

  2. Hypnotherapy: It is a type of hypnosis that helps the patient detach from the external happenings; in this case, it detaches from the thought of going through a dental treatment.

  3. Conscious Sedation: It is achieved with a combination of medications such as nitrous oxide that help the patient briefly forget any happenings experienced during the dental treatment. When in conscious sedation, the patient can respond to the questioning and can talk as well.

  4. Guided Meditation: It helps achieve peace of mind and relaxation before a dental procedure.


Overcoming dentophobia is a mental work that a patient has to work on continuously. Dental visits are a necessary part of everybody's life as they can rule out a dental problem as soon as they root in or even before the start by identifying the signs and symptoms. So, never consider it unimportant to make a dental appointment because of the underlying dentophobia. Take the required support from professionals and work on overcoming dentophobia by taking one step at a time.

Frequently Asked Questions


Which Are the Symptoms That Reveal Dentophobia?

People with odontophobia often show symptoms like shivering, racing heart rate, vomiting sensation, restless attitude, nervousness, sleeplessness thinking about the dental visit, feeling cold, upset stomach, crying, and even panic attacks.


What Are the Ways to Overcome Dentophobia?

Odontophobia is a mind related problem that can be dealt with by practicing the following;
- Trust your dentist.
- Communicate the fears to the dentist and keep the dentist informed about any discomfort faced during the procedure.
- Accompany family members when they go for a dental appointment to know the dental procedures better.
- Carry headphones and listen to mild music while undergoing dental procedures.
- Take deep breaths and calm down.


Is It Genuine That People Suffer Dentophobia?

Yes, dentophobia is genuine and is very commonly faced by the entire world population. It has also been recognized by the WHO as a disease.


What Is the Treatment for Dentophobia?

Medical approaches to treat dentophobia include;
- Behavioral therapy helps overcome fears by changing a person’s perspective of things.
- Hypnotherapy helps focus the mind on something that makes the patient calm and relaxed through hypnosis.
- Meditation helps the patient to stay calm before and during the procedure.
- Guided imagery.
- Conscious sedation uses nitrous oxide that keeps the patient relaxed throughout the procedure and blocks pain along with it.
- Anti-anxiety drugs.


What Does Bibliophobia Mean?

Bibliophobia is an anxiety disorder that means fear of reading or books in general. It has a great negative influence on the academic performance of an individual in studies as well as at work as they widely depend on reading as a part of their curriculum.


Is It Common to Face Dental Anxiety?

Yes, dental anxiety is common among children and adults, but there are many ways to manage it effectively.


How Is Dentophobia Classified?

Dentophobia is classified based on the factor that triggers the fear, such as;
- Simple conditioned phobia happens in those patients who fear undergoing a dental procedure.
- Fear of catastrophe, in which there is fear of the consequences that could happen.
- Generalized anxiety happens in a person who is generally very anxious about any overwhelming situation.
- Fear of dentists, some people have an innate fear of dentists due to various reasons or misconceptions.


What Does It Mean to Have Dentophobia?

Dentophobia is a fear of the dentist, dental visit, or a dental procedure. Usually, the thought of a dental visit itself is sufficient to trigger fear in people with dentophobia.


Does the Phobia of Losing Teeth Exist?

Yes, the phobia of losing teeth exists, but it is not named separately and falls under the term dental phobia as one of the various factors that cause it.


What Is the Prevalence Rate of Odontophobia?

Reports say that around 15 to 20 % of the world population suffers from odontophobia or dentophobia, making them refrain from going to a dentist or getting a dental procedure.


Why Would a Dentist Examine the Tongue?

During every dental visit, it is essential for the dentist to examine the tongue along with teeth as the tongue plays a vital role in assessing the health of the oral cavity and even the general health. The texture, color, and size are examined during a tongue examination as they reveal many underlying medical conditions.


How Does Odontophobia Vary From Dentophobia?

Odontophobia and dentophobia are the same. It is just another term to describe the fear of dentists.
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Dr. Liana J X Beatrice
Dr. Liana J X Beatrice



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