Dental phobias stem from various sources and can lead to strongly conditioned fear responses. The following are the most common origins of dental fear: Previously painful or negative experiences during visits to a dentist's office. A severe discomfort with feeling vulnerable and/or out of control in a dental situation. A sense of embarrassment from dental neglect and fear of ridicule and/or belittlement. Scary anecdotes of negative dental experiences from family and friends. Negative, menacing portrayals of dentists in movies, television, newspapers, and magazines. A sense of depersonalization in the dental process, intensified by today's necessity for the use of barrier precautions, such as masks, latex gloves, and shields. A general fear of the unknown. Once you recognize the possible sources of your patients' fears, you will be in a much better position to help them identify and overcome their particular brand of dental phobia.