Don’t Fear the Dentist: Pro Tips for Overcoming Dental Anxiety

You get butterflies in your stomach when the “save the date” card comes in the mail. You wince every time you see it on your calendar. You’re ready to break out in hives when the reminder call comes the day before. No, it’s not your stepsister’s wedding. It’s your dentist appointment. Whether you’re going in for a simple cleaning or a dreaded root canal, going to the dentist isn’t exactly akin to weekly happy hours with your colleagues, but it shouldn’t make you sweat. Harvey Passes, DDS, who practices at Passes Dental Care in Great Neck and recently published Profiles in Dental Courage to encourage people to overcome their dental anxiety, says it’s all about finding the right dentist.

“You need someone who listens, cares and explains and will serve as your dental advocate,” Passes said, adding, “You should walk away feeling like you had an amazing experience. That’s why Disney World can raise prices; they sell an experience you can’t get anywhere else.”

Going to the dentist might never be exactly like going to Disney World, but you can brush away your fears with Passes’ pro tips for overcoming dental anxiety.

profiles in dental courage cover

Word of Mouth

When it comes to finding a dentist, you can learn a lot through word of mouth. Passes advises talking to friends. Ask them how their dentist treats them. Does the dentist care and does s/he show s/he cares? How? Getting feedback first from people you trust rather than going off of a carefully crafted web ad can help you find a dentist you can count on.

Service With a Smile

The friendly vibe at Passes’ office doesn’t start when you take a seat in his chair and he begins to sing. It starts the moment you walk in the door because his staff follows suit (minus the singing part, but we’ll forgive them for that one!). “We never forget that our patients are the stars,” Passes said. “We always keep in mind that our purpose is to help you in the most comfortable, reassuring and pain-free way possible.” When you feel at home in the waiting area, as Passes’ patients do with soft lighting, a fireplace and 30 different types of hot beverages, you know you’ve come to the right place.

photo (15)

The Passes Dental Care waiting room has a fireplace and more beverage options than a Starbucks

Trust Your Gut

See if you can meet the dentist first, and then trust your instincts. “There’s something we learn as children but forget as adults,” Passes said. “When we’re younger, we don’t have a problem listening to the butterflies in our stomachs. Listen to your stomach.” When you meet your dentist, make sure you feel that the two of you have a good rapport and that s/he makes you feel comfortable.

Discuss Proper Payment

As if the drills and injections weren’t enough, dental work comes with a price tag, a reality that causes many to get nervous about seeking dental treatment. Ask if the dentist accepts your insurance and if not what kinds of payment options are available so you can afford care.

For service with a smile that’s catered to your smile, call the Passes Dental Care office at 516-858-5923 or visit