How to Stop Being Scared of Dental Cleanings

dental cleaning

If the thought of going for dental cleanings makes you anxious, you’re not alone.

According to Alfred Wyatt, DMD, an estimated 20% of people only go to the dentist when absolutely necessary.  So why risk going unless you absolutely have to? The truth is, you DO absolutely have to—if you value your health. Besides the cosmetic benefits like fresh breath and a brighter smile, regular dental cleanings prevent gum disease and let your dentist detect an array of serious health conditions in their early phases, like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Compelling health facts may not be enough to lessen your fear. Here’s what you can do:

1. Consult with different dentists before you commit. The right dentist will understand dental anxiety and make it a point to be considerate of your needs, which probably includes the need for control.

2. Check your local dentists’ websites for content that addresses dental anxiety directly. Services like sedation dentistry are offered at some offices to make cleanings and other procedures more pleasant.

3. When you do go for your first cleaning, make your needs clear right from the beginning. Consider saying something like:

“It’s tough for me to feel comfortable at the dentist. I have a pretty low pain threshold, so I’d like to be able to signal to stop or take a break when it gets too painful.” 

Don’t worry about inconveniencing your hygienist—he or she should be happy to help, and knowing your needs will make the visit go more smoothly for both of you.

4. Bring your “happy place” with you. Whether it’s the soothing presence of a friend or relative, engaging music, or a good affirmation like, “I am safe and comfortable,” details matter.

What if it’s your little one who doesn’t want to get a cleaning?

Going to a dentist who specializes in pediatric dentistry can be a big help. Pediatric dentists and staff are used to dental anxiety in kids, and have the tools and techniques to manage it. In the meantime, here’s what you can do to prepare:

1. Describe the upcoming visit in a positive way—emphasizing benefits like a nicer smile for older kids and teens and adding the magic of play for little ones. There are tons of activities to build excitement, create bonding experiences and enforce the benefits of dental hygiene.

2. Reward your child for being compliant at the dentist. Even staying in the dentist’s chair is an important step for anxious little ones. Stickers, a sugar-free treat or a trip to his/her favorite play spot are all great motivators.

By following the tips above, you should be well on your way to nipping dental anxiety in the bud—and having the regular dental cleanings that give you so much more than a brighter smile. What are you scared of when it comes to visiting the dentist? What would you need to feel better about going for regular dental cleanings? Let us know in the comments!  


This post is a featured article from Dr. Quin Gardner at Arise Dental located in Glendale Arizona.

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