Sailing and Dental Anxiety: How to Cope with Fear of the Dentist
Sailing and Dental Anxiety: How to Cope with Fear of the Dentist

Maintaining dental health while living aboard a boat and sailing the world can be challenging, especially for those with dental anxiety. Our article provides valuable tips and strategies for coping with fear of the dentist and finding reliable dental care while at sea.

Sailing and Dental Anxiety: How to Cope with Fear of the Dentist

As you embark on your sailing adventure with your family, leaving the rat race behind and embracing the open sea, it’s essential to maintain your health and well-being. One aspect of health that is often overlooked, especially when living an unconventional lifestyle, is dental care. In this article, we will discuss dental anxiety, its causes, and how to cope with the fear of the dentist while living aboard your boat.

Table of Contents

Understanding Dental Anxiety

Dental anxiety is a common fear that affects people of all ages. It is characterized by feelings of unease, nervousness, or even panic when faced with the prospect of visiting the dentist. This fear can be so intense that it prevents individuals from seeking necessary dental care, leading to more severe oral health issues down the line.

For those living aboard a boat and sailing the world, dental anxiety can be particularly challenging. The fear of the dentist may be compounded by the uncertainty of finding a trustworthy dental professional in a foreign country or the concern of needing emergency dental care while at sea.

Causes of Dental Anxiety

There are several factors that can contribute to dental anxiety. Understanding the root cause of your fear can help you develop strategies to cope with it. Some common causes of dental anxiety include:

  • Past negative experiences: A painful or traumatic dental experience in the past can leave a lasting impression and create anxiety about future visits.
  • Fear of pain: Many people associate dental procedures with pain, which can lead to anxiety about potential discomfort during treatment.
  • Loss of control: Lying in the dental chair with your mouth open can make you feel vulnerable and out of control, contributing to feelings of anxiety.
  • Embarrassment: Some individuals may feel self-conscious about the appearance of their teeth or the possibility of being judged by the dentist.
  • Fear of the unknown: Not knowing what to expect during a dental procedure can cause anxiety, especially if you have never had a particular treatment before.

Tips for Coping with Dental Anxiety

If you struggle with dental anxiety, there are several strategies you can employ to help manage your fear and ensure you receive the dental care you need. Here are some tips for coping with dental anxiety:

  1. Communicate with your dentist: Be open and honest with your dentist about your anxiety. They can provide reassurance, explain procedures in detail, and work with you to develop a treatment plan that makes you feel more comfortable.
  2. Establish a signal: Agree on a signal with your dentist, such as raising your hand, that indicates you need a break during a procedure. This can help you feel more in control and reduce anxiety.
  3. Practice relaxation techniques: Deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualization can help calm your nerves before and during dental appointments.
  4. Bring a support person: Having a trusted friend or family member accompany you to your appointment can provide comfort and help alleviate anxiety.
  5. Distract yourself: Listening to music, watching a movie, or focusing on a calming image can help take your mind off the dental procedure and reduce anxiety.
  6. Consider sedation dentistry: For those with severe dental anxiety, sedation dentistry may be an option. Talk to your dentist about the different types of sedation available and whether it might be appropriate for you.

Finding a Dentist While Sailing

One of the challenges of living aboard a boat and sailing the world is finding a reliable dentist when you need one. Here are some tips for finding a dentist while sailing:

  • Ask for recommendations: Reach out to fellow sailors, marina staff, or locals for recommendations on reputable dentists in the area.
  • Research online: Use online resources, such as expat forums or dental association websites, to find dentists in your destination country. Look for reviews and testimonials from other patients to help you make an informed decision.
  • Check credentials: Ensure that the dentist you choose is properly licensed and accredited in their country. You can usually find this information on their website or by contacting the local dental association.
  • Schedule a consultation: Before committing to a dental procedure, schedule a consultation with the dentist to discuss your concerns, ask questions, and get a feel for their practice.

Preventative Dental Care at Sea

While it’s essential to address dental anxiety and find a dentist you trust, preventative dental care is the best way to maintain your oral health and minimize the need for dental procedures. Here are some tips for preventative dental care while sailing:

  • Brush and floss regularly: Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss daily to remove plaque and prevent tooth decay.
  • Eat a balanced diet: Limit sugary and acidic foods, which can contribute to tooth decay, and ensure you’re getting enough calcium and vitamin D to support healthy teeth and gums.
  • Drink plenty of water: Staying hydrated can help prevent dry mouth, which can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Schedule regular dental check-ups: Even if you’re sailing the world, it’s essential to schedule regular dental check-ups and cleanings to maintain your oral health. Plan your visits around your sailing itinerary and make dental care a priority.


Dental anxiety is a common fear that can be particularly challenging for those living an unconventional lifestyle aboard a boat. By understanding the causes of dental anxiety, employing coping strategies, and prioritizing preventative dental care, you can ensure that your oral health remains in top shape as you sail the world with your family. Remember, maintaining your dental health is an essential part of living a fulfilling and adventurous life at sea.