Dr. Kathleen Mullaney • DDS • FAGD

COVID 19 Protocol - Team Mullaney is fully vaccinated

How to Deal With Dental Anxiety

How to Deal With Dental Anxiety

Going to the dentist is crucial for maintaining good oral health. However, for many adults, the thought of a dental visit can be overwhelming due to dental anxiety.

Our experienced Alexandria dentist, Dr. Mullaney, explains what causes dental anxiety and provides tips and strategies to overcome your fear. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is Dental Anxiety?

Dental anxiety, also known as dental phobia or dentophobia, is the fear, stress, or anxiety associated with visiting the dentist or undergoing dental procedures. Some studies show that 50-80% of adults in the United States experience some level of dental anxiety.

What Causes Dental Anxiety?

This fear can be caused by many things, such as past bad experiences at the dentist, fear of pain, fear of needles or injections, fear of the unknown, and worries about being judged or embarrassed.

How Does Dental Anxiety Affect Your Oral Health

  • Untreated problems grow – Dental problems can go unnoticed and worsen without regular checkups and cleanings. Cavities can deepen, gum disease can spread, and infections can fester. This means you may need more complex and expensive treatments later on.
  • Anxiety gets worse – Avoiding the dentist can make your fear even worse. The longer you go without dental care, the harder it becomes to break the cycle.
  • Overall health suffers – Your oral health is linked to your overall health. Neglecting dental care can lead to problems throughout your body, such as heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory infections.


7 Tips to Overcome Dental Anxiety

Beating dental anxiety takes effort and smart strategies. Here are some practical tips to help you overcome your fear and have a stress-free dental visit:

  1. Find a Supportive Dentist
  2. Picking the right dentist is key to managing dental anxiety. Look for a dentist who’s understanding, patient, and has experience working with anxious patients. Ask for recommendations from friends and family, or check online reviews to find a dentist who creates a comforting and supportive environment.

  3. Communicate Your Fears
  4. Open up about your dental anxiety to Dr. Mullaney and our team. We’re trained to help anxious patients and can adjust their approach to ease your worries. Share your specific fears and past experiences so we can provide the support you need.

  5. Distraction Techniques
  6. Before and during your appointment, try relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or calming music. Practice these regularly to get comfortable with them and make them more effective.

    You can also distract yourself during procedures with music, audiobooks, or podcasts. Talk to your dentist about distraction methods that work best for you.

  7. Gradual Exposure
  8. Ease into dental visits and reward yourself for progress. Start with short visits, like sitting in the waiting room, and gradually work up to longer treatments. Our team is also happy to let you tour our office before your first visit so you can see the space.

    Celebrate your successes with something you enjoy. Positive reinforcement can help you get used to the dentist and fight your fears.

  9. Sedation Dentistry
  10. If your anxiety is severe, sedation dentistry might be an option for you. Sedation techniques like oral sedation can help relax and calm anxious patients during dental procedures. Talk to Dr. Mulllaney about sedation options and whether they suit you.

  11. Educate Yourself
  12. Knowledge is power against dental anxiety. Learning about different procedures and oral health can help ease your worries. Read about common treatments and the latest pain management and dental technology. Understanding the process can make visits less scary and reduce anxiety.

  13. Regular Dental Visits
  14. Beat anxiety by making regular dental visits a habit. The more you go to the dentist, the more comfortable you’ll feel, and your anxiety will gradually fade.


Contact Our Alexandria Dentist Today!

At Dr. Kathleen Mullaney, DDS in Alexandria, we understand dental anxiety and are committed to providing gentle, compassionate care to all our patients. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and take the first step toward overcoming your dental fears!
Author Bio: Dr. Kathleen Mullaney offers various general and cosmetic dentistry services in Alexandria, VA. She earned her doctorate in dental surgery from the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) and proudly served as a United States Navy dentist before opening her practice. With over 25 years of experience, Dr. Mullaney is delighted to be one of Old Town’s most respected and sought-after dentists! Call 240-532-3335 to schedule an appointment.

Deal of the Day

* Includes necessary X-rays, Velscope Oral Cancer Screening and periodontal examination
(New Patients Only, excludes cleaning. Not billable to insurance)

Trusted in the Community

Had my first visit to Dr. Mullaney’s office this month since the pandemic and the experience was gold standard. The safety processes and clean office environment were impeccable. Dr. Mullaney and staff were, as usual, amazing. Every step was explained, the protective garments worn by staff were the best I have experienced. It was a safe and positive visit and I recommend making an appointment!!

I am a new patient. After my first dentist appointment with Dr. Mullaney, I left feeling very informed and in control of ultimately making decisions about the care and treatment I receive. The staff is incredibly kind and knowledgeable. I love that they participate in helping veterans through The Freedom Day USA program. They are committed to providing a very clean and friendly atmosphere. In addition this practice goes out of its way to bring comfort and the latest in dentistry to all their patients.

I never thought that a person could enjoy going to the dentist until I started seeing Dr. Mullaney. Her attractive and serene office and Dr. Mullaney and her competent and friendly staff make every visit a pleasure. They have a gift for making each experience smooth and efficient, with meticulous attention to the patient’s needs and comfort. On a scale of 1 to 10 this practice is a 15!

Dr. Mullaney and her staff are absolutely wonderful. They are very professional, personable and greet you by name when you walk in the door. Dr. Mullaney is very talented and really has perfected her craft. Even with a last-minute treatment change, she is unwavering in performing the highest quality treatment available. I am extremely grateful to you all for making my visit pleasant and even fun!