What Does Dental Anxiety Feel Like?

What Does Dental Anxiety Feel Like?

While it’s common to feel at least a bit nervous about going to the dentist, severe nervousness and other symptoms may mean that you have dental anxiety. This type of anxiety can make it difficult to stick to routine dental visits, such as cleanings and exams. You might also put off having necessary procedures done out of fear. Knowing more about the symptoms of this condition can help you determine if you have dental anxiety.

Physical Symptoms of Dental Anxiety

Physical Symptoms of Dental AnxietyDental anxiety can cause a wide range of physical symptoms. Unlike other types of anxiety, you will likely only experience dental anxiety when you think about upcoming dental visits or when you’re at the dentist’s office. You might also have this type of anxiety flare up in response to certain triggers at the dentist’s office, like when you hear a drill.

Physical symptoms can range from mild to severe. More severe symptoms might cause you to completely avoid going to the dentist. If you feel anxious about the dentist, you might experience one or more of the following:

  • Sweating
  • Low blood pressure
  • Temporarily high blood pressure, such as a quick spike while anxious
  • Rapid heartbeat or heart palpitations
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid breathing, especially if you have a panic attack
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as an upset stomach
  • Sleep problems, such as trouble sleeping the night before a dental appointment

Mental Symptoms of Dental Anxiety

As with many forms of anxiety, dental anxiety is known for its mental and emotional symptoms. When you have this kind of anxiety, you’re likely to have symptoms that affect your mental well-being. When severe enough, you might delay or avoid having even routine cleanings and procedures.

The mental symptoms of dental anxiety typically only occur when you have a dental visit coming up or when you think about going to the dentist. You’re unlikely to experience these symptoms at other times or in other situations. Keep in mind that you might have these symptoms when you’re setting up an appointment, driving to the dentist’s office, sitting in the waiting area, or sitting in the dentist’s office having a cleaning or treatment done. Some of the mental symptoms of dental anxiety include the following:

  • Mild to severe feelings of nervousness
  • Aggravation
  • Frustration and stress
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing on anything other than your upcoming dental visit
  • Restlessness
  • Trouble keeping concerns or worries about your dental visit under control
  • Feeling as though you need to avoid going to the dentist

What to Do About Your Anxiety Symptoms

What to Do About Your Anxiety SymptomsIf you experience one or more physical or mental symptoms of dental anxiety, it’s important to find ways to manage them. Otherwise, you might be tempted to skip routine dental exams and cleanings or avoid having necessary work done. Handling your anxiety helps ensure that you get timely care needed to protect your oral health.

The way you manage dental anxiety depends partly on the symptoms you experience and how mild or severe they are. Several coping techniques can help you keep dental anxiety symptoms under control. You can practice these techniques before your appointment or even while you’re in the dentist’s chair. For example, you can do deep breathing exercises or meditation to help ease nervousness and other symptoms of dental anxiety. Calming your mind before or during your visit can help slow a rapid heartbeat or allow you to concentrate better.

Dental sedation is another way to cope with dental anxiety. This involves having your dentist give you an anti-anxiety medication or use “laughing gas” to help you feel calmer during your visit. Dental sedation is available in a few different forms, including nitrous oxide, IV sedation, and oral sedation. You can go over these sedation options with your dentist to determine which method to use. The best option for you depends on the severity of your dental anxiety, what kind of dental work to be done, and your medical history.


If you experience dental anxiety and need dental cleanings or dental work done, please contact Dental Brothers. We offer dental sedation in Phoenix and Mesa to help make your visits more comfortable. We can help you find the right type of sedation for your appointments to put you at ease while you’re here.