Helping you overcome the fear of the dentist

by | Apr 5, 2023

Are you anxious about a visit to the dentist? So is over 50% of the British public. 36% of the population has dental anxiety, and 12% have phobia levels of extreme dental anxiety. Dental anxiety and poor dental health are connected. Avoiding professional dental care can lead to painful and costly dental health issues. Good oral health requires preventive measures as well as treatment. We hope to ease that anxiety with some practical information. Remember, your dental health is far too crucial to be hindered by fear of the dentist.

Understand your dental anxiety

Did you have a bad experience that gave you dental phobia? Traumatic and negative experiences are usually the reasons for dental anxiety. What you have to remember is not all dentists are alike, and some even provide extra care to those suffering from dental phobia. If your dental fear stems from previous bad experiences, choose a dental practice that offers patient comfort to anxious patients. 

Those suffering from anxiety disorders usually have anticipatory anxiety. Learning about the nature of the treatment and openly discussing your fears with your dentist will help them personalise your treatment. If you have a low pain threshold or are overly sensitive to drilling or other dental procedures, you can request anaesthetic, sedative, and numbing options. What’s important is understanding why you fear the dentist; leave the rest to a good dentist.

Choosing a good dentist

Skill is a vital part of efficient treatment. A qualified and experienced dentist can make dental treatments relatively painless and minimally invasive. Always choose a reliable dental practice with a good reputation. Some dental treatments require specialist skills. In those instances, your dentist should refer you to a specialist. You can also select a clinic with in-house specialists to ensure you are getting qualified professionals to treat your condition.

Your dentist should have a sympathetic attitude toward your anxiety. Nervous patients need reassurance, open discussion, and coping mechanisms. An understanding dentist takes deliberate precautions to minimise the discomfort other patients might not feel. 

For example, a nervous patient may need local anaesthetic or sedation for a routine dental procedure like drilling out decay for a filling. It’s important that your dentist is accommodating and willing to make dental treatments as pain-free as possible. Even administering anaesthetics needs a more delicate touch. These considerations are a natural part of genuine patient care practised by professionals with high standards. 

Choose a modern dental clinic with hi-tech diagnostics and digital dentistry services. More up-to-date treatments and procedures are less invasive and uncomfortable. They are also faster and more efficient. Results are more accurate and predictable.

Research your dentist before making an appointment. Visit their website, read patient feedback, and phone reception to learn more about the services they offer for nervous patients. Ask about sedation and anaesthetics for routine procedures.

Practice relaxation techniques

There are several ways to overcome dental anxiety through relaxation methods.

  • Controlled breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, is an evidence-based anxiety reduction technique. Progressive Muscle Relaxation can also reduce the sympathetic nervous system’s response. You can practice these before and during the procedure. 
  • Applied Tension techniques help patients likely to faint at the sight of needles or blood. These raise your blood pressure and heart rate to normal levels to prevent the fainting response.
  • Modelling can alleviate anxiety by watching videos, reading up, and seeing images of the dental procedure you will undergo.
  • Take noise-cancelling headphones and listen to music in the dental chair. It helps calm your nerves and drown out any sounds that make you anxious. 
  • Carry an anxiety fidget toy to relieve your stress. 
  • Practice visualisation of mental imagery that is pleasant and tranquil. Consciously guide your attention to relax by diverting your attention from the dentist’s office.
  • Overcoming your fears of the dentist with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and systematic desensitisation before visiting the dentist will alleviate most of the anxiety. 
  • Focus on the final result and your dental well-being. Promise yourself a reward after the treatment.

Discuss options with your dentist

During the initial consultation, talk openly with your dentist about your fears. Do not feel embarrassed to reveal the full extent of your fears. Communication and trust building are essential to easing anxiety. Ask questions about the dental procedure. Your dentist may use tell-show-do to systematically desensitise while putting your mind at ease about the process. 

You should know every step in the treatment process and what is involved. Not taking yourself by surprise is crucial. Anticipatory anxiety arises from perceived danger due to an unknown situation. A good dentist gives straightforward answers and encourages you to clear your doubts. They will also give you moral support and positive reinforcement. A patient feels less anxious when the dentist acknowledges their concerns and addresses specific fears. 

You can agree on a stop signal if you feel pain or want them to stop. Paying attention to the patient body language for signs of distress is a quality of a skilful dentist.

IV sedation is an option to consider if you are too nervous. Make sure your dentist provides that, and they are equipped and trained for it. You can request local anaesthesia and even discuss using super-fine needles. Ask about numbing options before the use of needles.

Make necessary arrangements for your appointment

Being accompanied by a family member or a friend can help you feel much safer. Those who are afraid of the dentist find emotional comfort when they have someone they can depend on to drive them, give them positive affirmation, and look out for them. 

Make sure the person you choose is empathetic and understands your dental anxiety. It is especially helpful if you worry you will avoid the dentist in a last-minute change of heart due to your phobia. Patients who get sedated during treatment will need someone to take them home.


Sympathetic dentistry should be natural in every dental practice. Dental treatments can feel overwhelming to a majority of people. Acknowledging this fear in children and adults both and addressing it will encourage more people to have better oral health. Mouth Clinics have caring professionals and friendly staff who put you at your ease. 

With pain-free and minimally invasive techniques, you get shorter and more efficient treatments. Our resident specialists ensure you receive comprehensive dental care under one establishment. And, as a state-of-the-art referral centre that handles complex cases, you are safe in the hands of our professionals.

Would you like to experience our nervous patient care services? Talk to us today!