Top 10 Reasons People HATE Dentists

by Dr. Joe :) · 172 comments

“Things I Really HATE About Dentists”

Many people hate the dentist

What do you HATE about dentists? What part of it bugs you the most?


If you’re a Dentist Hater, I’m sure you have your reasons, and yet I’ll bet it’s not actually dentists you hate. It’s all the stuff a dentist does that creeps you out – the drilling, filling, and billing parts.

Who can blame you for that? A dental chair can combine the sum of all fears… with pain, needles, doctors, confined-spaces, loud noises.

It’s no big surprise so many people hate going to the dentist.

Yet, dentists aren’t such bad people. We’re just the ones doing the work and stuck with the bad-guy label.

Here’s a list I put together of the Top 10 Reasons People Hate Dentists based on my years of observation. It was easy. I just listen to people’s stories.

Perfect strangers, once they know I’m a dentist, are willing to tell me why they hate “our kind.” ( a little Anti-Dentite Seinfeld humor there)

See Kramer’s Anti-Dentite skit –>

Besides, if you came to see me as a new patient, one of the first things I would want to know is what you like and dislike about going to dentists. I want to do more of what you like and less of what you don’t like.

What is it about going to the dentist that you hate more than anything else? I tried to organize these Top 10 Reasons based on this question… “What is the one thing you hate the most about dentists?”

Participate in the poll to indicate which of the Top 10 Reasons you hate most. Read more about the Top 10 Reasons below and decide which ones apply to you. Thank you!

sweet post-doodle - 573Top 10 Reasons Why People HATE Dentists

Why People HATE Dentists #1 – The Needle!

In picking #1 for this Top 10 list, I gave the nod to the biggest phobia. Fear of needles and injections is HUGE for some people. It’s one of the Top 10 Adult Phobias, and children are even more fearful.

I didn’t dare show a picture of a needle here, because even the image will upset a phobic person.

Suffering from dental pain - hate the dentist.

Dentistry without anesthetic is an option… “Dear lord, you must be kidding!” is what you might be thinking. I actually do a lot of Minimally-Invasive Dentistry with no anesthetic. It’s nice to avoid the freezing (that’s what we call it here in Canada) when it isn’t needed.

On the other hand, proper Pain Management is absolutely essential for more invasive dentistry. I can hardly imagine the brutality of old-style dentistry.

Delivery of Local Anesthetic is often the make-or-break “Moment of Truth” in the entire patient-doctor relationship. That’s the reason I use a Comfort-Driven System to ensure patients are as comfortable as possible.

Being a little sneaky about it also helps. Nobody should have to look at it.

Why People HATE Dentists #2 – The Pain!

Is it going to hurt?” That’s the question on everybody’s mind whenever they sit in a dental chair. This was a strong choice for #1 on this Top10 list and is easily the most common reason that people hate dentists.

Modern dentistry should be comfortable and easy.

Everyone hates pain, and if you’ve ever endured dental pain, you know how excruciating it can be. That’s the reason why so many people associate dentists with pain.

Your teeth are a vulnerable, sensitive area of your body, so the threat of dental pain is very real. Many people have felt jolts of pain at the dentist in the past, and they never want to feel anything like that again.

That’s why proper Pain Management is so vitally important. Otherwise dentistry becomes brutality and the dentists are despised for it. Modern dentistry should be comfortable and easy.

Why People HATE Dentists #3 – The Anxiety!

This has to be the worst part. Anxiety is that sense of dread and general apprehension before and during an appointment.

Anxiety puts you on edge, compounds the ordeal and you’re left completely drained by it. Even if there isn’t any pain involved, it’s the threat of pain and other triggers of fear that build up the anxiety and make for a miserable experience.

Some people can’t sleep properly the night before their appointment. They hate feeling so anxious but they can’t shake it. Sedation Dentistry is a great option to reduce anxiety.

I wrote more about this issue in a previous 2-part post about Fear and Anxiety.

Why People HATE Dentists #4 – The Drill!

Old-style dental drill. Brace yourself.

Some people are OK with everything, except for the dreaded dental drill. This weapon of destruction – with all the noise vibration and spray – becomes a focus for their anxiety. When they hear that sound, their sweat starts to pour.

Thankfully the newer ones are much quieter and smoother than those old brain-rattling ones of yesteryear. Inside your mouth, sounds tend to be amplified. Sedation Dentistry can help you relax if the dental drill is intolerable. Earphones help block out the sound so you can almost pretend you’re laying back on the beach.

Why People HATE Dentists #5 – The Invasiveness!

Dentistry is invasive. We’re right inside your mouth performing our gum-gardening and tooth-carpentry.  This can definitely feel like an invasion of your personal space. If the dentist is not graceful, gentle and respectful about your care, you could feel almost violated by the invasiveness of most dental procedures.

Why People HATE Dentists #6 – The Sounds & Smells!

With any measure of anxiety or fear, your senses are put on high-alert. You become hyper-aware of sights, sounds and smells.

Some people hate the antiseptic smell of medical and dental offices. We do our best to keep our office sensually attractive within a spa-like atmosphere.  You’ll feel our warm ambiance with light jazz in the background, our soothing warterwall, and medical-grade air purifiers to maintain a fresh clean smell.

Why People HATE Dentists #7 – The Cost!

What is pocket change to one is an astronomical fee to another.

This can be a deal-breaker. Everyone appreciates exceptional care, but for some people, even basic dental care isn’t affordable.

There’s 2 issues here. One is affordability. What is pocket change to one is an astronomical fee to another. People have their budget limitations and I certainly respect that. Sometimes “good enough” has to be the way when “the best” is not within reach.

The other issue is value. Not everyone places high value on their dental health. It can be a lot to spend if you need major work, and some people absolutely HATE spending hard-earned dollars on dentistry. It makes them furious because they don’t get to spend it on stuff they like. Even if they have the money, they would rather be spending it on things that bring them more pleasure.

Personally, I look upon general health and dental health as necessities. Staying healthy and keeping my teeth is a high priority.

Others have different priorities, such as the young woman in The Lost Starfish.

Money is one of the biggest sources of Dental Drama. Not being able to afford decent care can be very upsetting.

Scolding for bad behaviour

Why People HATE Dentists #8 – The Lectures!

If you already feel guilty or embarrassed about your situation, the last thing you want is reasons to feel worse. You don’t need to be scolded into submission, admonished like you’re a helpless child or assaulted by irrelevant factoids until your eyes glaze over.

Going to the dentist is stressful enough without the people who are supposed to help you piling on more guilt and blame. Who needs that? Why pay good money and be made to feel like crap?

My advice to dentists: Bombarding people with information shows professional knowledge, but demonstrates a selfish vie for attention and a disconnect from the relationship aspect. We are people taking care of people. Never forget your humanity and compromise that bond by indulging in lectures or overplaying the SMART card. People already assume you’re smart, so you don’t have to prove anything. Keep that card tucked in your pocket and use it sparingly. Play the WARM card to the hilt because what people really want is more caring in your care.

What you want as a patient are solutions and positive emotional outcomes –  to feel the security of good health and the confidence of looking and feeling your best.  You need a fresh new start with the hope and promise of a better tomorrow. What you want from a dentist is leadership.

Here’s the bottom line: Find a dental team dedicated to making YOU healthy and happy instead of posturing to make themselves look more knowledgeable and superior. Never forget that you’re the boss, so tell them you prefer a NO LECTURES approach.

Why People HATE Dentists #9 – The Poor Service!

Everything matters.

Everybody promises better service. When you step in the front door, you find out the truth. Do they have brand integrity and a great reputation, or is it just song and dance?

Indifference is the big relationship killer in healthcare. Every member of the team represents your brand, and any time one of them drops the ball on service, the magic you were trying to convey vanishes in a puff of smoke.

Here’s a secret. Where you find great service, you’re likely to find superior quality. They go hand in hand. It’s all about dedication to excellence, and that dedication extends to all aspects. Everything matters.

Look for prompt courteous care where you’re always treated with grace and respect. You want an uplifting experience in which you walk out healthier, happier and smiling more beautifully than when you walked in.

Why People HATE Dentists #10 – The Bad Memories!

Your brain is wired for fear.

Did you have a bad childhood experience? Join the club. So many of us endured nightmare scenarios by today’s standards.

It’s hard to let go of that. Every time you enter  a dental office it can feel like you’re reliving those childhood events.

Your brain is wired for fear. Emotionally-intense memories are very powerful and long-lasting. Sedation Dentistry can be a great option to reduce the anxiety brought on by bad memories. Trust also goes a long ways to helping you finally let go of that past.

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Here's a sweet little post-doodle for posting.

Getting Past the Hate:

There you have it, the Top 10 Reasons Why People Hate Dentists. Was there anything on the list with your name all over it?

Dental horror stories are retold like spooky campfire tales…

The good news is that dentistry is more advanced and more comfortable than ever. So these days, most people don’t mind going to the dentist.

Sure, everyone wishes dentistry was more affordable. And as pleasant as we can make things, dental offices won’t be anyone’s favorite place to visit. Until we have a magic wand, the dentistry still has to get done. The big change is that visiting the dentist doesn’t tend to ruin your day as much, and that’s a world of difference from the bad old days.

The bad news is that in a weird way, people LOVE bad news and scary stories.  Dental horror stories are retold like spooky campfire tales. Those I-HATE-the-dentist rants are more interesting than any I-LOVE-my-dentist stories.

Things like Root Canal Therapy have such a bad rep because of all the friend-of-a-friend stories that circulate. People are amazed and relieved once they discover how laughably easy most things really are.

Good news is warm and fuzzy, but not buzz-worthy. A juicy horror story has legs. You can milk a harrowing tale for years of attention and sympathy if you’re so inclined.

So in the end, you can keep hanging on to your I-Hate-the-Dentist story, or get on with things and find a dentist that makes you feel relaxed and comfortable.

Stay healthy and keep smiling!

Signature for a Toronto Cosmetic Dentist.

Dr. Joe :)

Dr. Joe Bulger

About the Author: is a West Toronto dentist. He’s also the owner-founder of Royal York Dental – a respected dental clinic serving Etobicoke since 1950.

If you would like to learn more about your dental options, fill out our contact form or CALL 416 231-0550 for a FREE & Easy No-Obligation First Visit.