Ways to Reduce Dental Anxiety

If sitting in a dentist’s chair sounds terrifying or maybe even impossible, you might suffer from fear of the dentist. Dentophobia is more common than most people think, affecting 36% of the USA’s population. As much as 12% suffer from extreme dental anxiety!

Whether your fear stems from a previous dental experience or you are scared of the potential pain, the unknown, sensory overload, or claustrophobia, there’s no need to be ashamed or embarrassed! Your feelings are valid!

But we’re getting off-topic. We’re here to tell you that your fear does not have to stop you from getting the oral healthcare critical to your overall well-being. At Germantown Dental Group, we want all of our patients to be comfortable and confident in our office, and we understand that it is not easy for some patients to feel that way. Luckily, we know a couple of things that might help.

Why do I need to overcome my dentophobia?

When you’re scared of something, it can be hard to feel motivated to work through that fear. After all, you’re probably afraid for a reason, right? To help you feel inspired to see Dr. Whittemore, Dr. Gruen, and their amazing team, we want to tell you a little about how dentists can benefit you! 

Dental exams are crucial to maintaining the health of your teeth and gums. While what your appointment entails might vary depending on your needs, the services your checkup could include are: your hygienist taking X-rays and images of your mouth to document your mouth’s health, professional teeth cleaning, and Dr. Whittemore or Dr. Gruen thoroughly examining the mouth to look for cavities, gum disease, infections, cancer, mouth sores, and more. 

Though the above might sound stressful, you are unlikely to feel discomfort or pain during your checkups. If you do, please don’t hesitate to say something! Our team wants you to be as comfortable as possible.

Attending these appointments as frequently as advised by Dr. Whittemore or Dr. Gruen increases the chances of finding and treating concerns early before they can cause lasting damage to your smile! 

What can I do to get through my appointment?

We’re happy to report that there are many ways to reduce the fear you feel at the dentist. Though they might require some practice for maximum benefits, we promise you’ll notice a difference with consistent use!  


The best advice we can offer regarding your dentophobia is for you to be honest with us. We have seen patients with dentophobia almost daily for more than 45 years. Letting us know right off the bat that dental care can be an overwhelming experience for you allows us to prepare for your visit. We will happily set out blankets, headphones, and refreshments to help you relax.

Don’t be afraid to communicate with us before, during, and after your appointment. We are honored to help you work through your fears, and it’s much easier to do so when we know what’s going on in your mind. Throughout your session, you can ask questions about what we’re doing and why and let us know if you’re uncomfortable. At the end of your appointment, you can tell us what you found notably anxiety-inducing so we can help you through it the next time we see you. 

All of us at Germantown Dental Group want to change your mind about dental care, but we can’t do that if you’ve had a horrifying or frustrating experience with us. Honesty is the best policy! 

Breathing Exercises.

When you feel anxious at the dentist, one way to calm down is to regulate your breathing. There are plenty of breathing exercises, but at Germantown Dental Group, we’re fond of what we call “The Rectangle Method.” To do this, locate a rectangle in the room and slowly trace its edges with your eyes. Breathe out on the long edges and in on the short edges. If you can’t find a rectangle or prefer to keep your eyes closed or covered during your appointment, that’s okay! Just breathe in and out at four counts each. 

We always try to keep an eye on our patient’s breathing throughout the appointment and will remind you to regulate your breathing if we notice any changes.

Bring Comfort Items.

Despite popular beliefs, we don’t think you’re ever too old to bring comfort items to the dentist! You can bring your favorite hoodie, a fidget spinner, a stuffed animal, a stress ball, or something else! 

Comfort items do exactly that—bring you comfort! You could even bring a snack to eat as a reward when the appointment is over. These things can help you associate dental care with not-so-scary feelings.

If the item makes noise or takes up considerable space, ask our team beforehand if you can bring it.

Bring Someone To Talk To.

Bringing a friend or trusted family member is another excellent form of distraction. Your guest can talk to or with you during the appointment to give your mind something else to focus on.

Before your appointment, call and ask us if there will be space for your guest in the room. If there isn’t, don’t worry! We’re fun to talk to, we promise! 

Take Breaks.

If you ever feel overwhelmed and need space, ask for a break! If we know about your dentophobia, we could offer you breaks at opportune moments. During the pause in care, you can work on these exercises, talk to your guest without us getting in the way, or interact with your comfort items. We’re always happy to come to a stopping point so you can relax.

Another thing you can do during the break is to count objects in the room, such as the number of ceiling or floor tiles. Try not to count items that will make you nervous, like our dental equipment. There are also relaxation apps you can download before your appointment. Some are even specifically for anxious feelings or panic attacks! 


For some patients, getting in the door feels impossible! If necessary, we can prescribe an anti-anxiety medication to help you get to and through your appointment or procedure. Even if you receive a prescription for medication, don’t hesitate to ask for breaks, bring comfort items, or practice regulating your breathing! 

These medications affect everyone differently, and you might need someone to drive you to your appointment. Know all the possible side effects before taking, and don’t drive yourself until you know how it affects you.

Ways to Reduce Dental Anxiety

Germantown Dental Group Can Show You How Fun Dental Work Can Be!

It could sound counterintuitive, but the more visit us, the less intimidating dental work becomes! Don’t believe us? Remember when you learned to ride a bike or watched a scary movie for the first time? They were so scary, right? You needed someone to be there for you and help you when you were nervous. The more you did it, though, the less you needed that support. You started to know what you were doing or what to expect. It’s the same for dental work! The more you do it and know what to expect, the less there is to fear!

Germantown Dental Group wants to provide you with the exceptional care, quality of life, and oral hygiene education everyone deserves. We take pride in helping patients improve their relationships with oral healthcare. To learn more about us, how we can help you overcome your fears, and the care we provide, please get in touch with us to schedule an appointment with our talented and compassionate staff. 

We hope to see you soon!