How to overcome your fear of the dentist

Many people fear going to the dentist. Some are scared of the drill or needle, whereas others had a traumatic experience during childhood. Whatever the reason, ‘dentophobia’ prevents people from receiving the dental treatment they need. The good news is there are ways to overcome this fear. In this blog post, we’ll provide some practical ways you can address your anxieties.

Visit the dental surgery beforehand

It’s a good idea to visit the dental surgery before the day of your check-up. This will let you familiarise yourself with the environment so you’ll be more prepared on the actual day. You’ll also be able to meet the staff in-person and inform them about your anxieties.

Go in the morning

Avoid late afternoon appointments because you’ll be dwelling on the appointment for the whole day. Book an early-morning appointment instead so you can get it over with. This way you’ll also have less time to get cold feet.

Bring someone with you

Bring a friend or family member with you for moral support. Dentists are usually fine with patients bringing someone into the dental treatment room with them.

Agree on a stop sign

It can be tricky to say ‘stop’ when the dentist’s tools are in your mouth. Therefore, you might want to agree on a sign with the dentist beforehand that tells the dentist that you want to stop. For example, you could raise your hand.

Listen to music

Some patients find that listening to music helps them to relax. If you think it could help, ask your dentist beforehand if they mind you bringing a music player to your check-up or treatment. Just don’t listen to heavy metal!

Start small

If the idea of an invasive treatment terrifies you, then you could start small. Start with simple treatments, such as a scale and polish, and then build you way up to more invasive procedures. Remember, you can always refuse treatments you don’t feel comfortable with.

Do keep in mind that the first appointment is usually just a check-up; treatments are typically left for the second appointment. This means you can use your first appointment to familiarise yourself with the dentist.

Receive sedation

If you’re really nervous, then the dentist might offer sedation. One sedative is nitrous oxide, which is colloquially known as ‘laughing gas’. Other sedatives are given intravenously (injected into a vein). Sedatives will make you calm and relaxed, but you’ll also be awake so you can talk with the dentist.

Look for an understanding dentist

Finally, look for a dentist who understands your fears. Ask your friends and family if they know any dentists who might fit the bill. We don’t want to blow our own trumpet, but we do like to think that we have a good understanding of patients’ fears. So don’t hesitate to discuss your situation with us!

Our dentist for anxious patients

Dr Jai Arhi is our new Clinical Lead and Practice Principal at Willows who has received accreditation from Dental Phobia UK for his work with phobic and anxious patients. If you’re anxious about getting dental treatment then Jai might be the dentist for you. Book an appointment with him by calling 01432 274749 or emailing

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