Psychologists-Dentists Collaboration

Dental Fears

Dental fears, anxiety and phobias lead to avoidance of dental treatment. Dental conditions are created and exacerbated by stress. Temporomandibular Joint Disease (TMD / TMJ) and bruxism is caused by clenching and grinding of teeth during sleep. Cosmetic dentistry is sometimes disappointing. Good oral health is important to overall physical health and longevity. Talking to a psychologist can help with stress, anxiety, and fears.

Dentists and psychologists, working together, can help you with:


psych_dent_cvrA moderately high proportion of the population experience dental fears.

As in most phobias, avoidance of the feared object or situation is common. Studies find that dental fear leads to an avoidance of dental treatment, and this may lead to serious consequences for a person’s oral and general health. Serious carious lesions may develop and progress to abscesses or tooth loss.

Periodontal disease may develop or progress if routine dental treatment is not obtained. Pathological undiagnosed lesions may eventually lead to life threatening consequences. Oral manifestations may be the initial signs of many systemic diseases. Dentists and Psychologists can work together to identify and treat a patient’s anxiety and phobias, to enable patients to obtain the dental treatment they need.


Dental conditions are exacerbated by stress. Temporomandibular Joint Pain (TMD) and Bruxism are caused by clenching and grinding of the teeth during sleep and during periods of stress. Stress may also contribute to poor oral hygiene habits thus increasing the amount of plaque remaining on the teeth.

Psychologists are experts in the area of stress management. Psychologists can help the dental patient to learn relaxation techniques and methods of stress reduction.


Cosmetic dentistry offers many positive opportunities. While many restorative techniques exist to enhance one’s looks, sometimes we must accept limitations. The aging process and its effects on teeth and gums can be discouraging and even traumatic. A psychologist can help in this area of self-acceptance, and help a patient develop an increased level of self-esteem.


Chewing tobacco, popular among athletes, causes dental problems and can even lead to oral cancer. Psychologists are behavioral specialists that can help educate and counsel athletes and others who desire to stop this harmful habit.


Baby bottle tooth decay is a disease that can cause severe tooth decay in infants and children. Cutting back on bottle feeding at six months, and curbing use of the bottle as a pacifier can be helpful. Psychologists working with families can help both parents and child minimize this problem.

Brought to you by
Psychologists In Independent Practice,
Division 42 of the American Psychological Association with the support of the Practice

Brochure Committee Chair
Elayne Rosoff, Ph.D.
Brochure Consultants
Paul Glassman, D.D.S.,
Carol DuBois, Psy.D.,
Earl Goldstein, D.D.S.,
Laurie Kolt, Ph.D.,
Robert Moore, D.D.S.,
Elaine Rodino, Ph.D.,
and Thomas Segura, D.D.S.

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