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A negative dental experience early in life can have a great impact on how you view the dental profession throughout your years. If you find yourself getting nervous just with the thought of visiting the dentist, you may have had a less than positive dental history. It is common for those with dental anxiety to avoid getting regular dental care, which can lead to gum disease, cavities and tooth loss. Some would sooner live with dental pain or unsightly teeth than visit a dentist. Often it is not the fear of the dentist, but rather the procedures that a visit entails. Some fears are related to dental procedures, while others are not.

The following is a list of possible causes of anxiety:

  • Fear of pain
  • Feeling helpless and out of control
  • Being embarrassed about the condition of one’s teeth, and of the fear itself
  • Previous negative dental visits, which can include both pain during visits and unprofessional conduct
  • Feelings of humiliation caused by family, friends or others
  • Learned behavior – if a parent or caregiver is afraid of the dentist, children are more apt to be the same; even without their own experiences to base their fear
  • Fear of needles, drills, gagging, or the sensitivity to odors in a dental office
  • Negative experiences with medications designed to relieve pain or anxiety