Dental anxiety can be really hard to deal with. It can lead to numerous problems and make your regular dental visits uncomfortable, to say the least. And for some people, it makes getting dental care nearly impossible–whether needed or not! Your oral health can suffer.

These effects of dental anxiety are well known, but where does fear come from? There are many sources of dental fear that reach you through five major pathways.

5 Pathways of Your Dental Anxiety

Cognitive Conditioning

This refers to classical, pavlovian conditioning. Basically, you learn to be afraid because you’ve experienced pain at the dentist in the past. As a result, you start to get anxious when you face an appointment with your dentist. And your anxiety can increase when you think about the dentist or when you encounter some stimuli associated with the dentist, such as the smell of the office or the sound of the drill.


The informative pathway is an indirect method by which many people acquire dental anxiety. You are given information by people or media that convey their fear of the dentist, often accidentally. No one is telling you should be afraid of the dentist, but kids are great at reading between the lines and learn the lesson anyway.


You might also have had a more direct experience with people’s fear of the dentist. If you had people around you who explicitly expressed fear of the dentist, you might have learned to be afraid of the dentist that way. This is partly responsible for why dental anxiety is so common. A few people might have bad experiences and learn to be afraid of the dentist. Others learn to be afraid from them.

Verbal Threat

For many people, the dentist is used explicitly as a threat. People are given frightening information about the dentist with the intent that it will encourage them to take good care of their teeth. Most often, this is done by parents and teachers. Rarely, this is used by dentists themselves.


The parental pathway is partly informative, partly verbal threat, and partly vicarious. It’s separated out to recognize the special authority that parents have over their children. Children learn dental fears mostly from their parents.

In addition, the strong correlation between fearful parents and fearful children leaves open the possibility that there is a genetic component to dental anxiety, although it is not considered to be very strong.

NuCalm Can Help You Unlearn Your Fears

No matter the source of your dental anxiety, NuCalm gives you the opportunity to walk back your fears and learn to look forward to your dental appointments. Sedation dentistry doesn’t give you that opportunity as much, because you are drugged and not able to process as well. But with NuCalm, you’re not only fully capable, you’re actually taking time essentially meditating in the dentist’s chair. It’s a great opportunity for you to truly find your peace at the dentist’s office. You will make new memories and learn new associations with the dentist–all of them positive.

If you want to learn how NuCalm can help you overcome your anxiety, please contact a local NuCalm dentist today.