Why are we scared of Dentists?


Written by Dr Amrita Jain

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated Dec 4, 2023

Written by Dr Amrita Jain

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated Dec 4, 2023

We are scared of hundreds of things in life. From terrifying monsters under our beds to walking alone inside a dark alley; from the eternal phobia of crawling animals to the deathly predators that lurk in the forests. Of course, some fears are rational, and many aren’t. But, all of us are one scared bunch of individuals.

It is hardly surprising then that all of us have been, or still are, frighteningly scared of visiting a dentist.

All of us have experienced that slight gasp, that sudden feeling of shock and despair, that comes along a sudden shot of pain right beneath one of those backbencher’s teeth. Ouch!

The pain subsides, and we forget about it. Most of us won’t even think of calling a dentist and checking if this was normal. We keep ignoring all those little red flags. And only when the pain becomes unbearable, we reluctantly decide to book our appointment.”

And even then, we endlessly hope, our toothache miraculously goes away with just medicines.

A question arises, exactly why are we so scared of a Dentist? Are these fears rational? Or have we blown them out of proportion for no reason?

Let’s explore.


What exactly is Dentophobia?

Scientifically called Dentophobia is an extreme fear of visiting a dentist. Now the question arises, is it really such a big deal?

Well, numbers tell us an interesting story.

Dental anxiety, or dental fear, is estimated to affect approximately 36% of the population, with a further 12% suffering from extreme dental fear[1]

That means Dentophobia is experienced by a whopping 48% of our population! That means every one out of two persons around us is a victim of Dentophobia!

And it is not completely baseless, if I may. On a little introspection, there are some recurring themes that seem to be driving this madness.

Fear of Painful Dental Procedures


Fear of injections in your gums

Some of us may find it easy to take injections on the arms or the back. But the very thought of a needle piercing the gums is unsettling! It goes without saying that all of us know how sensitive that area is. Who in their right mind would want a syringe pierced below their teeth!?

The noise of the drilling machine

Have you seen a drilling machine easily piercing a hole through my wall? Have you seen how easily that carpenter just drilled a big hole through that big fat piece of wood! OMG!

And you say you want to use that drill to dig open my teeth? Ha ha, no thank you.

The nightmare called Tooth Extraction

Another horrifying moment for us is when we’re told they have to extract our teeth. This treatment surely reminds us of the horrendous interrogation techniques used by dangerous armies to inflict pain on their prisoners. Don’t we have enough stress in our lives already?

The clinic feels like an operation theatre

If there is one place, which all of us associate only with pain and suffering is a Hospital. All of us know it’s a place where we go to get our bodies fixed. How can that be a happy feeling at all?

The smell & the vibe

The pungent smell of the disinfectants, frightening posters of badly rotten teeth, extra-large models of our teeth and gums, the painful faces of all the other patients waiting for their turn – It’s just a sad & gloomy picture.

Inability to express your painfully

Been in a situation where you’re unable to express your pain to your dentist? Questions like will the dentist understand what I am going through? Are the medications safe? Won’t there be any side effects? And so many more questions keep popping in your mind.

You question yourself if you were able to communicate your dental issues and did not miss out on anything. All this just adds up to your anxiety. This inability to explain what you’re going through makes you feel more scared and agitated isn’t it?

The feeling of complete helplessness

Often when you sit on that dental chair with that mouth wide open, suddenly you feel there’s nothing you can now do to make yourself feel better. You now know, there is no way you can make a U-turn. You find yourself in a position where you’re not in control anymore. This can be extremely frightening for some.

Deep-rooted personal fears


Bloody Mary is not the drink you want anymore

Some find it shocking to spit out blood in the spitoon. Fear of spitting out blood makes you think something is going wrong somewhere. All of a sudden you just want to abort the mission.

Bad dental experiences holding you back

Dental fears often come from bad dental experiences from the past. It may be our own personal experience. Or we may have heard painful dentist stories from our near & dear ones. Even worse, we just went to the dark corners of YouTube and watched something nasty. Naturally, we would not want to go to a Dentist anymore.

A visit to a Dentist is a costly affair

All of us have a friend or two, who had to get their tooth extracted. They came back with stories of how expensive those visits were! Someone having paid INR 35k, someone having paid INR 60k! To add fuel to the fire, have we even heard of dental insurance? Rarely do we see someone, boasting happily of their brand new & shiny golden crowns.

The bottom line is:

Dentophobia – fear of dentists, is real, alive & kicking. The phobia can be so severe that it prevents patients from seeking the dental care they need to stay healthy. There are some fears which rational and avoidable. And some, we have just blown out of proportions.

The good news is, we can completely eradicate this fear. We are going to address some burning issues in this current series around the same topic.

So, gear up & cheer up. Subscribe to the newsletter to get the latest updates on our stories. And do not forget to share your thoughts in the comments below.


  • Dental phobia is real. Most of the dental fears come from bad dental experiences in the past.
  • The most common reason being the fear of dental treatments and the pain that comes along with it.
  • There are some ways to avoid going to a dentist for complex dental treatments.
  • You can save yourself from dental anxieties by taking a free scan and consultation at the comfort of your home.
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Author Bio: Dr. Amrita Jain is a practicing dental surgeon since 4 years. She completed her B.D.S in 2016 and was has been a rank holder throughout her course. She suggests “Holistic dentistry is the best dentistry”. Her treatment line follows a conservative pattern which means saving a tooth is of utmost priority and preventing your teeth from getting decayed rather than curing it with a root canal treatment. She inculcates the same while consulting her patients. Apart from her interest in clinical practice, she has developed interest in research and writing over a period of time. She states “It is my clinical experience that motivates me to write and spread dental awareness”. Her articles are well researched with a combination of technical knowledge and clinical experience.

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