What is Odonotphobia?

Odonotphobia is the exaggerated and unwarranted fear of dental care, most often exhibited as a fear of the dentist. This phobia is also spelled “dentophobia”. Some people suffer from odonotphobia to such an extremity that simply seeing a dental image can cause distress.

Dental phobia seems to be an increasing phenomenon, possibly because as doctors become better at spotting and treating phobias more cases are being properly identified.

Since discomfort during treatment is common, a concern about dental care is natural, and it is thought that most of the adult global population fears dentists at least to some degree.

This phobia is linked to other medical phobias such as the fear of needles (tryphanophobia), fear of doctors (Iatrophobia), and others (such as fear of hospitals, pain, etc.). Some notable cases of odontophobia

The root word “dento” is Latin meaning “tooth” or “teeth”.

Symptoms of Odontophobia

  • extreme anxiety, dread
  • shortness of breath
  • rapid breathing
  • heart palpitation
  • excessive sweating
  • nausea
  • dry mouth
  • confusion / inability to articulate clearly
  • lack of focus
  • irritability
  • diarrhea
  • shaking
  • feelings of powerlessness
  • obsession with the subject of the phobia
  • fear or feelings of losing control
  • avoidance behavior
  • headaches

Learn more about phobia symptoms

Causes of Odontophobia

In most cases, people who experience odontophobia

Negative portrayals of dentistry or dental pain in mass media and cartoons may also contribute to the development of dental fear. Helplessness and perceived loss of control during dental treatment also contributes.

Odonotphobia is a specific (or “isolated”) phobia, centered on non-social key factors. Isolated phobias tend to have some previous trauma (often in childhood and often physically injurious) as a root cause; a fear of bees may stem from an injury in childhood, for instance.

Upbringing can also play a role, such as parental warnings about a direct threat (such as “snakes can bite and kill you”) which is especially notable in cases where a threat is more imminent. (An allergy to bees or peanut butter, for instance, would naturally reinforce a real medical concern.)

It is thought that genetics and hereditary factors may play a role in specific phobias, especially those related to a danger of injury. (A primal “fight or flight” reflex may be more easily triggered in those with a genetic predisposition, for instance.)

By contrast, social phobias (like a fear of body odor or touch) are less well understood, are driven by social anxiety and are broadly labeled as “social anxiety disorder”.

In all kinds of phobias, external experiences and / or reports can further reinforce or develop the fear, such as seeing a family member or friend who is affected. In extreme cases, indirect exposures can be as remote as overhearing a reference in conversation or seeing something on the news or on TV and movies.

Odonotphobia, like most phobias, stems from a subconscious overprotection mechanism, and as with many phobias can also be rooted in an unresolved emotional conflict.

Learn more about the causes of phobias

Treatment for Odontophobia

  • Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)
  • Habit strategies to relax
  • Cognitive therapy (CT)
  • In vivo exposure
  • Response prevention
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Group therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Energy Psychology
  • Medication
  • Meditation

Learn more about phobia treatments


Book Shelf

The list of books below are hand picked by the staff at Massive Phobia. It's a mixture of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Habit Strategies, Trauma Healing, Mindfulness, Meditation, Buddhist Knowledge and Somatic Study. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.