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Is Fear of the Dentist All in the Head?

If you have a fear of the dentist, you are likely wondering if such fear is rational. You might also be wondering if your fear of the dentist is all in your head. As explained below, there is no logical reason to be fearful or nervous about dental treatments and procedures.


Numerous dentists and medical researchers are adamant that figuring out how the brain reacts to auditory stimulation has the potential to help scientists pinpoint ways to help patients relax. Medical researchers recently scanned patients' brains to determine if fear of the dentist is completely in the head. (

These researchers played sounds of suction instruments and dental drills during their studies. The results were presented at a get-together of those belonging to the Society for Neuroscience. The study confirms what most dentists have long-thought: Those who have fear display significant differences in brain responses compared to those who have no such fear. Brain scans conducted within a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine show that suction and drilling sounds really do alter brain activity.

The bottom line is that the sound of dental instruments invokes fear. Those who were nervous about visiting with the dentist displayed quite the unique response. The researchers referenced above observed a particularly intense response in the region of the brain known as the caudate nucleus. In particular, the left side of the caudate nucleus activated when dental drilling and suction sounds were played. It is interesting to that note dental sounds also triggered responses in the brains of those who do not fear the dentist.


Those who had a traumatic experience at the dentist's office as a child typically find it difficult to fully embrace dental treatments in the adult years. Bad dental experiences in one's youth have the potential to linger in the mind for decades or even indefinitely. In some cases, patients who had a bad experience at the dentist's office in their youth never get over their phobia. The truth is that there is nothing to fear when it comes to dental exams, cleanings, treatments and procedures.

People who have had a painful or otherwise traumatic experience while visiting the dentist in the past should not let it stop them from seeing a dentist now! No two dentists are the same. Furthermore, your tolerance for pain has increased since childhood. New patients should meet with the dentist, let them know about their bad experience and they will find that subsequent treatments are not as stressful. Once a dentist performs a painless procedure or treatment, patients will realize that their dental phobia has always been in their head.

Contact our dental office today

A fear of the dentist should not stop you from enjoying beautiful and healthy teeth and gums. Our dentist is here to make your dental visits as smooth and enjoyable as possible. We go out of our way to ensure you are treated with the utmost care as soon as you walk in the door. Reach out to us today to schedule an appointment.

Request an appointment in our Rancho Mission Viejo dentist office here:

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