What Is a Fear of the Dentist Called?


Dentophobia, or fear of dentists, is a common phobia for people of all ages, especially among children. Such fear can cause your child to get physically ill, feel an overwhelming sense of dread, or experience a full-on panic attack at the mere thought of going to the dentist.

Our Kool Smiles Kids Club partners know how important it is to help your child overcome this fear of the dentist. The oral health of your child is about much more than just learning how to floss or prevent cavities; experts know that there is a direct link between the health of your child’s mouth and their overall wellness, which can cause serious health problems later in life.

What Causes Dentophobia?  

Most phobias like the fear of a dentist is, at its core, an irrational fear. However, it’s also a very real one for those who suffer from it. Dentophobia has triggered countless people to avoid the dentist for years, even decades. By avoiding a dentist altogether, people with dentophobia are much more likely to suffer from gum infections, toothaches and decay, and broken or unhealthy teeth.

It’s estimated that between 9% and 15% of Americans don’t visit the dentist due to dentophobia. So, what causes this feeling of panic? A fear of the dentist develops for the following reasons:

  • Helplessness/Loss of Control—People acquire a phobia when they can’t predict what will happen next.
  • Pain—In a recent survey, 6% of people reported fear of pain being the primary reason for avoiding the dentist.
  • Embarrassment—Some people experience shame or embarrassment at having a dentist look into their mouth, considering it an intimate part of their body. This feeling is intensified if they are self-conscious about how their teeth look.
  • Bad Previous Experience—If a person experienced pain or trauma from a previous visit to the dentist, fear can arise for future visits.

How to Calm Your Child’s Fear of the Dentist

A few steps you can follow to help lessen your child’s fear of the dentist include:

  1. Ask the dentist to create a signal that allows your child to stop the procedure if he or she feels uncomfortable.
  2. Request to sit with your child during an examination.
  3. Find ways to distract your child while in the dentist’s chair, such as having him or her listen to music on headphones during a procedure.
  4. Have your child practice techniques to relax.
  5. Discuss possible sedatives that may help your child. While it’s not required for a dentist to perform sedation, there’s a good possibility a dentist can offer at least one option.

Going Above and Beyond

The goal at every Kool Smiles Kids Club location is to make sure your child’s dentist experience is such a pleasure that no one will develop dentophobia, and to help those who already have. Staff members and dentists alike are here to help make sure every visit is not only beneficial to the oral health of your child, but is a pleasant and enjoyable experience as well.

If your child does suffer from fear of a dentist, rest assured that every effort will be made to help your child conquer his or her phobia! To learn more, find a Kool Smiles Kids Club partner dentist location near you, or call us today.