Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Ask the Doc: Overcoming Your Fear of the Dentist

Image of Patient getting dental care. Air Force Capt. Emily Kopec, 56th Medical Group dentist, fills a cavity at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Early treatment of cavities can prevent the progression of tooth decay and the need for more extensive treatment in the future (Photo: Senior Airman Phyllis Jimenez).

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Dental Care | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Ask The Doc

Dear Doc: I have several colleagues in my unit who don't like – or even fear – visiting the dentist. Some go as far as to live with a toothache or other oral problem for months just to avoid seeing their dentists.

I wonder if you could share a few tips for how my colleagues and others can overcome this fear? Could you also provide a few tips related to oral health you wished everyone knew or kept in mind?

Thank you,

-Sgt. Dan D. Dentophobe


Illustration of a male face with the words 'Ask the Doc'Dear Sgt. Dentophobe: Many service members face the same fear. I found just the person to talk to about this. I contacted Army Maj. (Dr.) Loc Dang, a pediatric dentist at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. Here's what he said:


How many of you like going to the dentist?

How many would rather wait until the pain is unbearable before seeking treatment?

Dentophobia (a fear of dentists), it turns out, is one of the most common phobias in the world! I recently walked around my clinic (a dental clinic!) and polled my coworkers on why they avoid seeking dental care. You might recognize their answers:

  • I hate needles.
  • They will find a cavity because I have bad teeth.
  • The dentist doesn't care about me and just wants more money.
  • They will judge me when they see my teeth.

As a dentist, the most important thing I can do for you is provide you the education to maintain excellent oral hygiene and prevent dental diseases. If you are successful with prevention, your dentist won't need to use needles because your teeth will be happy and healthy. With the right knowledge, then, your future dental visits will be a breeze! Let's review some key information:

  1. Brushing and flossing are actually important. In college, I lost my dental insurance for four years. When I returned to the dentist, I was shocked when they told me I had ZERO CAVITIES. How did I do it? I learned how to brush and floss correctly: To brush, hold your toothbrush with a loose grip and brush in circles for two minutes. Note, it's the tip of the bristles that do the action, so if your brush is frayed, it's time for a new one. With flossing, think of your teeth as windows. Would you lick the outside of your windows? I wouldn't either. You've got to squeegee (floss) them clean – and often!
  2. Please stop sharing drinks and utensils, with your friends and with your family. You can easily pass your germs to other people. If they get cavities, chances are they came from you.
  3. Your diet matters. Everything you ingest (except water) has sugar in it. This sugar will increase the acidity level in your mouth. Bacteria needs an acidic environment to "turn on" and will use the sugar you feed it to grow. Keep in mind, bacteria thrive on easily processed sugars.
  4. Tobacco is bad for you. I shouldn't need to spell this one out. Please find a healthier way to manage your stress and anxiety.
  5. Go to your dental check-ups. Early detection is key. Your mouth says a lot about your general health. If we catch something amiss at a routine appointment, we can guide you to the proper people to get you the help you need. If you wait until you are in pain to pay us a visit, you'll probably find your dental journey long and costly. Don't do that to yourself.

My wish as a pediatric dentist is that your children won't grow up with the same dental fear you have.

Please teach them the importance of oral hygiene.

Brush your teeth together so they can see how important it is to you.

Most importantly, take your children to the dentist regularly so they can build positive memories at the dentist's office.

And remember, dentists are people too, and we survive on your healthy, happy smiles.


Sgt. Dentophobe: it sounds like your best way to get over your fear of the dentist is to make sure you keep your teeth clean and healthy. The scary things you're worried about rarely happen to people who get a clean bill of oral health. So keep brushing, keep flossing – and take care out there!

You also may be interested in...

Men's Health Month - Taking Charge

Infographic
6/1/2022
Men's Health Month - Taking Charge

June is #MensHealthMonth. Your strength is rooted in your health and well-being, so #BeStrong and make sure you’re staying up to date on all health screenings and tests. www.health.mil/menshealth

Recommended Content:

June | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Men's Health

Men's Health Month - Screening

Infographic
6/1/2022
Men's Health Month - Screening

Not all illnesses and injuries demonstrate symptoms immediately. This #MensHealthMonth, be sure to ask your doctor which screenings might be right for you. #TakeChargeofYourHealth www.health.mil/menshealth

Recommended Content:

June | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Men's Health

Men's Health Month - Stigma

Infographic
6/1/2022
Men's Health Month - Stigma

#DYK? Men are 2x less likely than women to use preventive health care services. You can be the one to fight the stigma. Take action and schedule your recommended health screenings ASAP. #TakeChargeofYourHealth #MensHealthMonth www.health.mil/menshealth

Recommended Content:

June | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Men's Health

Dental Health Main

Infographic
1/13/2022
Dental Health Main

Dental and oral health is critical to overall readiness, and poor dental hygiene and preventive practices can impact deployability. #dentalhealth

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Dental Care | Dental Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

Dental Awareness Deployment

Infographic
1/13/2022
Dental Awareness Deployment

A force that is not dentally prepared may see a fivefold increase in deployed dental emergencies. Regular dental care is needed to maintain readiness and deployability. #dentalhealth

Recommended Content:

Dental Health | TRICARE Dental Care | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

Dental Statistics

Infographic
1/12/2022
Dental Statistics

Dental Did You Know? Dental issues can negatively impact your deployability. Stay mission ready and keep on top of your dental care. #dentalhealth

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Dental Care | Dental Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

Teeth

Infographic
1/12/2022
Teeth

Your teeth are your tools for eating – not for opening bottles or packages. Stick to using your hands to open containers. #dentalhealth

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Dental Care | Dental Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

Dental Health Reminder Avoid Tobacco

Infographic
1/12/2022
Dental Health Reminder Avoid Tobacco

Cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and other forms of tobacco cause oral cancer, gum disease, and other oral health problems. Avoid using tobacco to maintain your oral health. #dentalhealth

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Dental Care | Dental Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

Food and Beverage

Infographic
1/12/2022
Food and Beverage

#DYK: Drinks and foods high in sugar can lead to damage to your teeth. Skip the soda to protect your teeth. #dentalhealth

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Dental Care | Dental Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

Dental Health Awareness. Things to do in your birthday month?

Infographic
1/12/2022
Dental Health Awareness. Things to do in your birthday month?

Is your birthday this month? Happy birthday! Now is the perfect time to schedule your annual dentist appointment. #dentalhealth

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Dental Care | Dental Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

Dental Health Awareness: Reminder - Make Dentist Appointment

Infographic
1/12/2022
Dental Health Awareness: Reminder - Make Dentist Appointment

Things to do on your birthday: 1. Eat cake. 2. Brush your teeth. 3. Make your annual dentist appointment. #dentalhealth

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Dental Care | Dental Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

Dental Health Awareness 2

Infographic
1/12/2022
Dental Health Awareness 2

Keep yourself mission ready by taking care of your teeth. Schedule your dental appointment to maintain readiness. #dentalhealth

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Dental Care | Dental Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

Dental Health Awareness

Infographic
1/12/2022
Dental Health Awareness

DYK: Your birth month is the perfect time to make your yearly appointments – don’t neglect your teeth and make your dentist appointment this month. #dentalhealth

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Dental Care | Dental Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

Preventive Care Sleep

Infographic
7/20/2021
Preventive Care Sleep

Preventive Care Supports a Ready Force

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health Toolkit | Total Body Preventive Health - Dental, Medical & Mental | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

Preventive Care Child 3

Infographic
7/20/2021
Preventive Care Child 3

Preventive Care Supports a Ready Force

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health Toolkit | Total Body Preventive Health - Dental, Medical & Mental | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness
<< < 1 2 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 2
Refine your search
Last Updated: February 24, 2022

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.