Book a call with an Anxiety UK advisor here

Book a call with an Anxiety UK advisor here


At some point in most people’s life, they’ll experience dental problems. When this happens, a simple trip to the dentist can often quickly remedy the issue and improve their oral health. But when you feel unable to get the help you need, these problems can worsen and a toothache soon becomes something unmanageable.

For people with dental anxiety, visiting the dentist can be very scary prospect. If you get a sense of panic about getting any dental work done or even having a routine checkup, you may have dental phobia. This can lead to you neglecting your oral health, and developing serious dental issues.

There are many shades of dental phobia. You may feel a mild sense of anxiety and panic at the thought of not being in control during treatment, or you may have full-blown panic attacks caused by complex memories of previous traumatic dental experiences.

If any of this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Dental phobia is very common, bur with the right help it’s possible to overcome your anxiety and get the treatment you need.

In this guide, we’ll talk about the importance of speaking up about your fears and how, by doing so, you’ll take the steps necessary to improve your oral health and leave your anxiety in the past.

Finding the Right Dentist

Opening up about your fear of the dentist isn’t easy and you probably won’t want to talk about it with just anyone. It’s common to think that your fears are irrational or silly and that you’ll get judged for talking about them. You may not know what it is you even dislike about visiting the dentist, so how can you even talk about it?

But despite this, the first and most important step in tackling your dental anxiety is to talk about it. To do this, find a Dental Phobia Certified dentist that has the training, skills, and experience to assist nervous patients like yourself.

Using the Dental Phobia website, you’ll be able to find a dentist in your area that’s been certified as having the right approach to help you overcome your anxiety. A good dentist that has these skills will give you the opportunity to talk through your fears in a non-judgemental setting.

Making that initial contact with your new dentist will take courage. If you’re phoning up to make an appointment, tell the receptionist about your anxieties and they’ll make any necessary accommodations for when you come into the clinic.

If you feel unable to phone, get in touch online. Most clinics provide an email address or offer the ability to leave a message via their site. Some dental practices welcome DMs on social media. Get in touch the way that you feel most comfortable.

Opening Up About Dental Phobia

Once you’ve got an appointment, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss your worries with the dentist. It may help if you make a few notes beforehand, as your anxiety may make it hard to focus or communicate clearly. Note down any specific things you know you dislike about visiting the dentist.

Dr Patel says that the more your dentist knows about the cause and nature of your anxiety, the better equipped they’ll be at finding a way forward. For instance, if you’re worried about pain, they may be able to provide you with sedation and anaesthetic to make your procedure more comfortable.

A general fear of dental tools is very common. But with modern technology at their disposal, your dentist may not even need to use the type of tools you’re worried about.

For some people, the feeling of not being in control, or having someone in such close proximity may cause anxiety. Again, if your dentist knows this causes you discomfort, there may be adjustments they can make and they may be able to slow your treatment down and take things at a pace you feel more at ease with.

Communicating during a checkup or procedure can feel like a one-way street. You’re able to hear the dentist, but with your mouth otherwise engaged, you can’t tell them you’re feeling overwhelmed or panicked. Your dentist may suggest using a hand signal to let them know you’re uncomfortable.

Finally, your Dental Phobia Certified dentist may offer some strategies to help distract you during your appointment or treatment. They may have a TV or music system in the clinic, or tell you to bring something of your own to listen to during your time with them.

Bringing a friend or family member can also help. A supportive dentist will understand how important it can be to have someone with you to ground you if you start to feel panicked.

Take Your First Step Now

A positive experience with a patient dentist that cares and understands your dental phobia can make a profound difference. They may even help you overcome your anxiety, or at least make it manageable.

The important fist step is to open up about the way you feel and don’t be ashamed to ask for help dealing with this problem. Once you’re on the road to getting over your fears, you may be surprised at how far you’ll go.


This is a paid-for, advertorial blog submitted by a business whose website, products, services and associations are independent of, and not directly endorsed by Anxiety UK. The views expressed by the contributor are not necessarily those of Anxiety UK, nor can we guarantee the accuracy of the information provided. If you would like to feature an advertorial blog with AUK please email [email protected]  for more information.

To download a copy of our booklet Dental Anxiety & Phobia click here


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