Coping with a fear of the dentist

If you have a dental problem you should, in the first instance always phone the dental practice that you normally attend.

If you are not registered with any dental practice then your nearest dental practice will still be able to help..

Having a phobia of anything can make life difficult. If that fear happens to be of the dentist your oral health can suffer as a result.

Whatever caused your fear of the dentist, you should seek help. Avoiding dental care can lead to serious damage to your oral health.

Dental advances

Dental treatment has changed over the years. Dentists are much more aware and ready to help patients who suffer anxiety at the dentist. Dental surgeries and treatment have also been updated. Staff are trained to handle nervous patients.

It’s possible for dental treatment to cause the patient no pain at all. Numbing gels can be used to numb the gum area before you are given injections. The injections have been developed to cause little to no pain.

Coping with and easing your fear of the dentist

If you’re fearful or feeling anxious about visiting your dentist you could:

  • speak to your dentist and explain your feelings, then work together to make your visit as relaxed as possible
  • try breathing and relaxation techniques – these can help to calm your nerves and distract you
  • take headphones with you and listen to music, this will act as a distraction and take the focus away from any noises which make you anxious
  • agree with your dentist on a signal you will make if you feel overwhelmed or want the treatment to stop for any reason
  • ask for the dental nurse to speak with you or sit with you during your appointment
  • attend a sedation clinic if your phobia is severe

Sedation clinics

If your fear is extreme and you’re unable to find any coping mechanisms that work for you, you can ask to be referred to a sedation clinic. Sedation clinics are used for nervous and anxious patients. They allow dentists to carry out necessary work without putting a fearful patient through too much stress.

Sedation comes in 2 forms:

  • inhalation sedation, which is done through a nose piece, like gas and air
  • intravenous sedation, which is done through an injection in your hand or arm

Intravenous sedation is not for putting you to sleep. You’ll be awake during treatment. But it can help calm and relax you, and you may not remember having the procedure.

Last updated:
10 April 2024

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