For the most part, people young and old are comfortable and confident during treatment with our Santa Monica dentist. However, for some patients dental anxiety is a real concern, and one that Carol E. Follett DDS takes seriously. If you’re someone who dreads the dentist’s chair, here’s some advice for reducing your dental anxiety.

What Is Dental Anxiety?

It’s estimated that 5% - 8% of Americans suffer from dental anxiety and avoid the dentist under any circumstances. Moreover, another 20% of people possess a lower level of dental anxiety that keeps them from seeking dental care unless it’s absolutely necessary.


Two main causes of dental anxiety have been identified. The biggest, and one that applies to roughly two-thirds of anxiety sufferers, is a bad experience in a dentist’s office. The second cause is related to clinical conditions like anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress, and substance abuse. Across both causes, an overarching theme is the inability to control the situation due to being prone in the dentist’s chair, where it’s difficult to move or talk.

Ways To Reduce Dental Anxiety

There are a few ways to reduce dental anxiety, some of which are patient-specific and others that are dentist-related.


Many of the most effective solutions for dental anxiety pertain to communication techniques that a dentist will use to ease an anxious patient’s mind. For example:


  • Telling the patient they can leave at any time (seldom will a patient accept this offer, but many people like the fact that they’ve been given the choice)
  • “Narrating” the dental procedure, i.e. telling the patient what’s coming next, how it will feel, and how long it will last
  • Periodically asking the patient for permission to continue the procedure
  • Allowing the patient to pause the procedure if they start feeling uncomfortable. In some cases, the dentist and patient will agree to a cue, i.e. the patient raising his right hand when he wants to pause.
  • Making time for breaks at certain intervals of the procedure


From a patient’s perspective, there are some steps to be taken that can increase in-chair comfort and peace of mind. These include:

  • Asking a friend or relative to join at the first dental visit. This could mean having the person close by in the waiting room, or sitting in on the procedure.
  • Talk with the dentist about available/appropriate sedatives for the procedure to be conducted: local anesthetic, oral sedative, or nitrous oxide, depending on the dentist’s opinion
  • For many patients, listening to music on headphones brings added comfort - especially a new album that heightens interest level and takes the patient’s mind from the procedure
  • Relaxation techniques are beneficial: progressive muscle relaxation (which involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups) and controlled breathing (helps to slow the heartbeat and relax the body) are two of the most popular


Visit Carol E. Follett DDS and Leave Your Worries Behind

If you’ve been searching online for a “dentist near me” who takes a de-stressing, patient-focused approach to dentistry, Carol E. Follett DDS is the ideal choice. We provide a comfortable, relaxed environment that helps patients feel good about the dental care they need.


As you age, it's natural for the brightness of your smile to fade; it's just a fact of aging. But professional teeth whitening treatment with the Santa Monica teeth whitening dentist will restore your fresh, youthful appearance in just a matter of weeks.

There are many whitening treatments to choose from. We offer customized take-home whitening kits because we have found that using them consistently over a period of several weeks produces the most dramatic results.

Customized Teeth Whitening Options

The fastest way to see the most noticeable results in the shortest amount of time is to choose a customized in-office treatment with a knowledgeable cosmetic dentist. There are generally two options to choose from when considering teeth whitening.

The first option is an in-office whitening procedure. This is the fastest way to see the results you want because treatment usually takes an hour or less, making in-office whitening a great lunch-hour procedure!

The second option is customized take-home whitening kits. We start by taking highly-accurate impressions of your teeth that are used to create a whitening tray that perfectly covers your teeth and protects tender gum tissue during the whitening process.

Once the trays have been finished, you will wear them using the whitening solution provided by our dentist. Solutions vary by strength, and you will receive specific instructions on how long and how often they should be worn. We typically recommend 20 to 30 minutes per day for a period of two to three weeks.

Combatting Tooth Sensitivity

If you've tried whitening in the past and you experienced sensitivity, please let us know. We can customize the strength of your whitening gel to ensure that this isn't a problem. There's no reason to experience discomfort just because you want a more beautiful smile!

Remember that teeth whitening is not permanent, especially if you are doing it yourself at home. You will probably need to do frequent touch-ups if you are a smoker or drink a lot of coffee or red wine.

Please Contact Our Office for a Brighter Smile!

Would you like to learn more about customized whitening options with the Santa Monica, CA teeth whitening dentist? Please call our office today, and we’ll have you on your way to a brighter smile in no time!


At Carol E. Follette DDS, we take great pride in providing our customers with a first-class teeth whitening experience. Nothing beats a bright, healthy smile, and our team offers professional support and insight before, during, and after your visit. Today we’re focusing on the “after” part of a whitening treatment – specifically, preventative care that ensures your terrific smile lasts a long, long time.

Brush Your Teeth Properly

A teeth whitening treatment comes with a big boost of confidence and increased self-esteem, but don’t let post-whitening euphoria distract you from the most important step in maintaining you fresh new smile: brushing your teeth. It’s a good idea to brush not just in the morning and at night, but also after every meal. This is especially important if you’re in the habit of having a glass of wine for dinner, coffee at breakfast, and a soda every now and then during lunch. These beverages are notorious teeth-stainers, and certain foods we eat can also cause staining. Your best bet after having your teeth whitened is to increase, and not decrease, your brushing habits.

Less Drinking and Smoking

If you’ve spent any time around our teeth whitening dentist, you’ve no doubt heard us discuss the negative effects that alcohol and smoking can have on your teeth. If you look at your teeth whitening procedure as an investment, it should be easy to find the motivation to at least reduce your alcohol intake and smoking, if not remove them entirely from your daily life (especially the smoking). The nicotine in tobacco and the tannins in wine and other alcoholic drinks can reverse the effects of even the most comprehensive tooth-whitening procedure.

Use a Straw

Drinks like soda, iced tea, and anything else fizzy contains caffeine, tannins, and other chemicals that can stain your teeth. But when you drink these beverages through a straw, you greatly reduce the contact that these chemicals have with your teeth. A big gulp of iced tea or lemonade on a hot day can be hugely rewarding, but switching to a straw is a great way to keep your teeth as white as can be.

Choose Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening toothpastes aren’t just a marketing ploy – they actually work. The bleaching agents in these products, while not highly concentrated, is definitely enough to oxidize/remove stains from teeth. When you regularly use a whitening toothpaste, you’re able to consistently break down any stains on your teeth before they become too ingrained. The stains are brushed away and your teeth stay white, just the way you like them.

Opt For Smudge-Proof Lipstick

Although lipstick smudging happens less frequently than it did a couple of decades ago, there are still some lipsticks on the market whose composition makes them liable to stick to a person’s teeth. And in some cases, the pigments in the lipstick can cause discoloration. We recommend staying on the safe side and choosing smudge-proof lipstick.

Make an Appointment Today

Carol E. Follette is a cosmetic dentist that countless California residents rely on for teeth whitening, veneers, family dentistry, and much more. Make an appointment today and trust your smile to our capable team.