Cop­ing with a fear of the dentist

A fear of the den­tist is very com­mon and it affects around 53% of peo­ple in the UK. These den­tal pho­bias range from mild to severe. While some peo­ple might notice an ele­vat­ed heart rate and increased sweat­ing when they vis­it the den­tist, oth­ers will be too afraid to even book an appointment.

Overcoming your fear of the dentist is essential for your oral health. You need to be able to address dental problems when they arise, and you need to be able to seek treatment to protect your teeth. If you are afraid of the dentist, we have some tips to help you to cope.

Understanding your fear

The first step is to understand where your fear comes from. Some people can pinpoint the exact moment they became afraid of the dentist while others have a more difficult time. It could be linked to a past experience, or it could be linked to a story you have been told. It could also be something as simple as trauma to the jaw that makes you fear similar pain.

Fear of pain

Fear of painful procedures is usually a common complaint among patients. If you are afraid of needles or hate the sound of the dental drill, this could be enough to get your heart racing or to lead you to avoid treatment entirely.

Past experience

If you had a scary experience at the dentist as a child, this might be stuck in your memory. You might also remember a painful or traumatic experience like a root canal or extraction. If you became very upset during your appointment, this could add further emotional weight to your phobia.

Fear of judgement

Another common reason for fearing the dentist occurs as a result of avoiding the dentist for a while. As an adult, it’s easy enough to skip checkups, and this could lead to years without a checkup. You might also be worried that lifestyle choices like smoking or drinking could lead to judgement.

Fear of the dentist in children

Children can develop a phobia of the dentist seemingly out of nowhere. This is why it is vital for parents to remain positive around dental visits and avoid making the dentist the “bad guy”. The dentist needs to be a grown up that they trust and admire, so they can work together to achieve lifelong oral health.

Fear of the dentist in adults

In adults, the phobia is commonly linked to past experiences. Remember that dental technology has come a long way, and even something like anaesthesia is administered much better today. You can also speak up if you are in pain and ask for more numbing injections if the local anaesthetic has started to wear off.

Distraction techniques at the dentist

If you can overcome your fear of the dentist enough to get into the dentist’s chair, the hardest bit is often over. Patients often build up the appointment in their mind and blow it out of proportion. Perhaps stress, anxiety or depression in other areas of your life could be manifesting as a fear of the dentist?

Speaking to the reception team is a great place to start. They can help to put you at ease and offer suggestions for making your appointment less daunting.

You are welcome to wear headphones during your appointment if you would like to be distracted. We recommend listening to relaxation playlists to help keep you calm.

As a last resort, it’s also possible to explore oral conscious sedation if you need a lengthy procedure. This is a pill you take before your appointment to help you to stay calm.

It won’t put you to sleep, but some patients feel so relaxed that they are able to drop off to sleep. And the best part, you won’t remember the appointment afterwards, so you won’t be adding to your dental phobia fuel.

Final thoughts on coping with a fear of the dentist

Remember that your dentist is always available to help you overcome your fear. A calm patient is much easier to work with, so it’s in our interest to help put you at ease. If you are concerned about your checkup or procedure, speak to our reception team about what we can do to help.

Con­tact our practice

The Implant and Cosmetic Smiles Clinic

27 Bed­ford Square,
Houghton Reg­is, 

Mon09:00 - 17:00
Tues09:00 - 17:00
Wed09:00 - 17:00
Thurs09:00 - 17:00
Fri09:00 - 16:00
The Implant And Cosmetic Smiles Clinic Reception area