What is it?
Dental anxiety ranges from mild uneasiness (experienced by many of us), to acute anxiety/panic attacks. When a person will not visit the dentist despite needing treatment, they can be said to be suffering from dental phobia.
The particular fears of visiting the dentist vary from person to person. Some people have their fear triggered by the sound of the drill, or the thought of needles in sensitive areas of their mouth. For some it is the loss of control which is most feared, for others it is the fear of pain. Generally, but not always, dental phobias generally develop from childhood, where a traumatic experience may have left us with feelings of anxiety about going to the dentist.
DIY self diagnosis
If you can answer YES to most of the questions it is likely that you are affected by dental phobia.
Over the past 6 months, did any of the following make you feel anxious:
- Have you avoided dental and/or oral medical treatment because of your fear?
- Have you carried on far longer with pain in your tooth or an infection because of your fear of attending the dentist?
- Do you have an overwhelming fear when you think about attending an appointment at the dentist?
- If you hear a dental drill sound, does this cause you a very high level of anxiety?
- Have you had this fear for some time, following a difficult experience in childhood with the dentist?
Anxiety UK strongly advises that people seek further information and guidance from their GP who will be able to make a formal diagnosis.
How we can help
- One year’s free subscription to Headspace (worth approx. £60), more details
- Access to reduced cost therapy
- Access to specialist email and helpline support
- Subscription to Anxious Times magazine (worth £12 annually)
- Access to our Member’s area and free online resources
- Free copy of Understanding Anxiety booklet (worth £3.99)
Dental Phobia fact sheet
This fact sheet gives a detailed overview, as well as a look at some of the evidence based approaches to treating dental phobia.
Dental Phobia Helpline is a support service available to Anxiety UK members, where they can gain advice and support regarding dental phobia. Find out more here.
Controlling Anxiety is a CD designed to help those who experience a phobia or anxiety. You can purchase yours from the Anxiety UK online shop here.