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You're Not Alone! Dental Fear / Dental Anxiety

There are many reasons people are anxious about dentists and even more generally people are just nervous around doctors. The good news is you are not alone! At Floss & Fido Family dentistry, Dr. Sanders takes it seriously and we try all sorts of approaches to keep you feeling relaxed.


If you're located in Fircrest WA or nearby Tacoma, University Place, Lakewood or just generally the South Sound and looking for a dentist who is compassionate with a focus on reducing dental anxiety and dental fear than keep reading on.



"About 36% of people in the U.S. have a fear of dental treatment, with 12% having an extreme fear. About 3% of adults in industrialized countries may have dentophobia and avoid going to the dentist at all."

"White coat hypertension affects 15% to 30% of people who have high blood pressure. People without high blood pressure can have it as well."

Have you ever wondered why the doctor takes you blood pressure twice? Or maybe why the doctor doesn't come in wearing the white coat? Many times this behavior is to help relax the patient and give the patient time to lower their blood pressure.


Dr. Sanders' husband is a great example of this. He'll often need to warn the doctors ahead of time that he has white coat syndrome, he will need to warn them that he's a fainter and even let them know that he often has a "fear" of bad medical news.


Dr. Sanders' husband is a great example of this. He'll often need to warn the doctors ahead of time that he has white coat syndrome, he will need to warn them that he's a fainter and even let them know that he often has a "fear" of bad medical news.

It's this personal experience and years of experience treating patients that shaped Dr. Sanders unique approach to treating those who are often scared of the dentist.


Where does Anxiety of the Dentist come from?


Dental fear comes from both outside sources—like bad experiences, learning fear from others, and media—and from within, such as genes and personality. Each reason for dental fear is backed up by research evidence.

That depends on who you ask and where you look. More official research from the National Institute for Health suggests that dental fear comes from both outside sources—like bad experiences, learning fear from others, and media—and from within, such as genes and personality. Each reason for dental fear is backed up by research evidence.




On a more personal note, Dr. Sanders husband recounts years of dental visits, cavities and drillings was a child without ever having the procedures clearly explained. He says, "As I got older, the news from the dentist got worse, the surgeries got more serious and painful and ultimately I felt like the dentist was a reminder that I am aging. For me personally, I feel this made me more afraid of the dentist and want to avoid the dentist because they only brought pain and bad news"


"As I got older, the news from the dentist got worse, the surgeries got more serious and painful and ultimately I felt like the dentist was a reminder that I am aging. For me personally, I feel this made more afraid of the dentist and want to avoid the dentist because they only brought pain and bad news"

In addition, other psychological and psychiatric reasons often cited, for example if you have. family history of anxiety, mood disorder or possibly


  • Algophobia, a fear of pain.

  • Emetophobia, a fear of vomiting.

  • Haphephobia, a fear of being touched.

  • Iatrophobia, a fear of doctors.

  • Trypanophobia, a fear of needles.


So the answer is, dental fear and anxiety is complex, fear of the dentist and anxiety from dentists probably comes from many places but we believe that many dentists and doctors are not making it any easier on the patient.


We Believe Most Dental Offices Make Anxiety Worse



How you might ask?


Corporate Dental Chains are like Sausage Factories


They churn through so many patients and they have so many policies and rules it just makes it hard to develop a comforting relationship or try unique approaches. In fairness, you can find a good doctor at some of these chains but it is harder to provide a unique and intimate experience ... So the patient comes in, waits for 30 minutes, gets sat down, sees the doctor for 10 minutes, gets bad news and the doctor leaves... then the bill comes


Too Professional and too "Hospital"


Most dentist want to portray professionalism and demonstrate years of training to become a doctor. Additionally, most offices want to be neutral places for all ages that don't offend anyone. Mix this all together and you get dental offices that often feel like "hospitals" with white walls and those "same chairs". It screams that you're about to get bad news.


Too Busy


Frankly, it costs a lot to run a dental office and it costs a lot to pay back all those student loans. You end with a dental office that needs to make money, see more patients and churn out profit. But there's a tipping point where the process becomes so impersonal and so procedural that patients aren't treated like people but more like customer's and products. Combine all that with bad news and trauma and it just makes patients worse.


Bad Dentists Frankly


Historically, around 60% of cavities did not need to be filled. If greed did not run dental offices then patients would not go through as much "trauma" as children and maybe they would not be afraid of the dentist. It's sad to say, but there are dentists out there who may choose to fill a tooth when you don't need to or cut a crown when you don't need it. Each time this happens, the patient goes through new trauma.


Dr. Sanders Approach to Dental Anxiety/Fear


We are big on "keeping it small" and intimate so we can build a relationship with you. Dr. Sander's will often have small "meet and greets" .


We'll let you hang out in our waiting room and give you a tour and do some unofficial exposure therapy with no "official dentist stuff". That way next time you visit, you know what to expect.


We'll let you hang out in our waiting room and give you a tour and do some unofficial exposure therapy with no "official dentist stuff". That way next time visit, you know what to expect.

Our office is a bit different than others, we don't do the "hospital setting" and we don't try gimmicks with massage chairs or fireplaces.


Everything about our waiting room is meant to make you feel like your at our home. We're all about art, science, video games, engineering, puzzles and mid century modern furniture from the 70s.


We scatter puzzles around the office to keep your mind busy while you wait, we add weird art so you don't feel like a hospital and you have access to music and vinyls if that's your thing.


You can even bring your dog if that helps bring your blood pressure and stress down. We just want you to feel as comfortable as you can before we do the typical dentist stuff.


Everything about our waiting room is meant to make you feel like your at our home. If your house was all about art, puzzles, games and mid century modern furniture.

We break many of those typical "habits" dental office fall into that create anxiety because we know it makes our patients feel better.


Don't be fooled by our relaxed approach either, Dr. Sanders has training as an engineer, a neuroscientist and doctor of dental surgery with her area of expertise being cosmetic dentistry like veneers and dentures.





Dr. Sanders will ask you questions about you anxiety and build a strategy around your anxiety and tolerance and create shorter sessions for you, will do smaller procedures, exposure if that helps and use other techniques.


Don't be fooled by our relaxed approach to helping reduce anxiety, Dr. Sanders has training as an engineer, a neuroscientist and doctor of dental surgery. She's a professional.

How we reduce Dental Anxiety/Dental fear?


In other articles, we've posted our list, but it stills holds true today ...






Compassion for the Anxious Heart


Before anything else, we acknowledge the real fear that comes with dental anxiety. Moving past the impersonal, clinical approach, our office offers a warm, comforting atmosphere that stands in stark contrast to the traditional, sometimes daunting dental environments.


Melody as Medicine: Dental Anxiety Reduction with Music


Soft, melodic backgrounds serve as a rhythmic reassurance, helping patients find a peaceful mental space amidst the clinical setting. The right song can make all the difference, transforming a tense moment into one of serene reflection.


Dental Anxiety Reduction with Art and Puzzles


Engaging artwork and puzzles are available to our patients, providing a joyful distraction that can ease anxiety and stimulate cognitive engagement, drawing focus away from dental procedures.


Pet Pals: Dental Anxiety Reduction with Pets


Our non-human colleagues, our pets, provide a furry distraction from dental procedures. Their presence in the office is designed to foster moments of light-hearted interaction, which can significantly lower anxiety levels.


Nature's Embrace: Dental Anxiety Reduction with Biophilic Design


Incorporating natural elements, we create a refreshing environment within our walls. This biophilic design strategy is meant to bring the calming essence of the outdoors inside, soothing the senses and calming the mind.


Color Calm: Dental Anxiety Reduction Using Colors


Utilizing a palette inspired by the most tranquil scenes of nature, we paint our patient experience with colors that promote a feeling of relaxation and well-being from the moment you enter our space.


Illuminating Serenity: Dental Anxiety Reduction Using Natural Light


We let the light in, both literally and figuratively. Our offices are bathed in natural light, diminishing shadows and fostering a more open and serene environment that naturally puts patients at ease.


The Comfort of Texture: Dental Anxiety Reduction Using Soft Textures


Every touchpoint, from the reception area to the treatment room, features textures that are gentle to the touch. These soft details are an essential part of our commitment to physical comfort and mental ease.


The "Unofficial Visit": Building Trust Through Familiarity


We encourage visits without the pressure of a scheduled treatment. These "unofficial visits" allow for a relaxed introduction to our team and space, promoting a sense of familiarity and trust that can significantly reduce anxiety during actual dental appointments.



Dr. Sanders, Owner Dentist




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