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Dental Phobia – How to deal with anxiety when visiting your dental practice.

Posted on: 2nd May 2019



Many people feel nervous or are afraid of visiting the dentist, according to statistics from the Oral Health Foundation, almost half of UK adults have a fear of the dentist, with 12% of these suffering from an extreme dental anxiety or phobia. At Dental Excellence Harewoodwe work with our patients to help them overcome their fears, we put our nervous patients at ease so that they are able to see us regularly and avoid any major oral healthcare problems.

Finding a dentist that is understanding can be hard, but at Dental Excellence we put our nervous patientsat ease. We are sympathetic, compassionate and understanding, and are more than happy to let our patients take things at their own pace while offering gentle encouragement.

We understand that there are different causes of dental anxiety and we offer solutions that help our patients feel more at ease with the treatments they are undergoing.

Many anxieties stem from childhood that develops later on in a patient’s life;

Young boy attending a dental check-up.
Fear of pain –fearing pain is one of the most common reasons people develop anxiety or become nervous when attending their dental appointments.
The fear usually stems from a previous dental experience that was painful or unpleasant, or they have heard of other dental issues relatives or close friends have had.

Fear of injection or that the injection won’t work – In the UK, many of us have some kind of phobia that is related to needles – this is often worse when people visit the dentist, because they dwell on the fact that most treatments involve numbing of some kind.

Feeling of helplessness or the loss of control – Some people feel helpless or out of control whilst they are receiving treatment – this is predominately because they are unable to stop treatment. Patients should always have control.

Embarrassment and loss of personal space  – Many people become uncomfortable/self-conscious when they are receiving dental/hygienic treatments – this usually stems from having a lack of confidence in the condition of their teeth.

What are the signs of dental phobia and how can you manage them better?

  • Becoming more anxious throughout the day – Try to arrange an earlier appointment, so you spend less time dwelling on going to the dentist.
  • Developing a sick/nervous feeling when you are waiting – Take a friend or relative with you to your appointment, a familiar face could help you feel more at ease. We won’t mind if they accompany you throughout your examination or treatment.
  • You start to feel an intense uneasiness when you begin your treatment – Talk to your dentist and agree on a sign that will signal you need a break.
  • Feeling physically ill from the fear of needles or pain – Speak to your dentist about topical numbing gel to numb the surface of the gum before any treatment begins, with a good caring dentist the injection should be comfortable.
  • Becoming extremely nervous before entering the dental practice – Try listening to music – this will help relax you.

Should you speak to your dentist about dental phobia or any concerns?

The key to coping with dental anxiety or nerves is to discuss your fears with your dentist/dental surgery. At Dental Excellence, once we know what your fears are and how they are triggered, we will be better able to work with you to determine the best way to make you feel less anxious.

Dr Donald Sloss, one of our senior partners is an expert when it comes to treating anxious patients and has treated patients with all levels of dental anxiety. Here at Dental Excellence, we offer a variety of different solutions to help our anxious patients;

Intravenous Sedation (IV) IV sedation is administered via a tiny cannula which is usually placed in the back of your hand and does not usually hurt. It makes you feel pleasantly drowsy and relaxed, and most patients do not remember anything of the treatment afterwards. It takes a while to wear off, so you will need someone to take you home and stay with you.

CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) – CBT is a form of talk therapy that directs patients to identify and evaluate their feelings and thoughts. This form of treatment is often short-term and highlights any distressing or unhelpful emotions that are related to your dental anxiety.

Other coping techniques that can assist some patients are;

  • Deep Breathing
  • Meditation
  • Distraction (Listening to music)
  • Guided Imagery
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation
  • Hypnosis

If you are an existing patient at Dental Excellence or other dental practice and suffer from anxiety or stressfulness when attending dental appointments, please feel free to contact a member our team on 0113 218 1919 or email us harewood@bupadentalcare.co.uk.


We firmly believe that everyone deserves a great smile and should have access to high-quality dental care. Combining the exceptional levels of clinical skill with the service we provide, it all comes together to deliver life-changing dentistry.

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We’re dedicated to offering an experience that we believe is currently unavailable anywhere else in the UK. The whole team here are dedicated to delivering a truly outstanding experience to all of our patients.

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We put nervous patients at ease so that they're able to see us regularly and avoid oral healthcare issues. We're sympathetic, compassionate and understanding, always happy to let you take things at your own pace while offering gentle encouragement.

view more >