A fear of the dentist, or dentophobia, is very common. About 50% of adults and children are afraid or anxious when having a dental appointment. Dentophobia may result from previous unpleasant experiences, a fear or sense of suffocating or pain, or the feeling of not being in control of the situation.

Discuss your dentophobia openly with your dentist, preferably when booking your appointment so that we can give you more time to make yourself comfortable during the procedure. Dentists aim to make the procedure as comfortable as possible, using local anaesthesia, laughing gas or premedication to alleviate any pain. Dental care under general anaesthesia may be a good option for patients who are extremely afraid.

It is important to have regular dental appointments despite being afraid as oral health has an impact on your overall health. The more frequently you have your teeth checked, the smaller the procedures you need to undergo.

Tips for overcoming dentophobia

  1. Talk about your fear
    - Speak to your dentist about your fear.
    - You can also ask your dentist to describe the different steps of the procedures and the equipment as that may alleviate fear and help you calm down.

  2. See if you can visit a dentist specialised in dentophobia
    - PlusTerveys also has dentists with specialist training in dentophobia.

  3. Turn to a loved one for support
    - Ask a family member or a friend to book an appointment for you 
    - They can also join you for your first dental appointment

  4. Learn relaxation techniques
    - Breath calmly in through the nose and out through the mouth
    - Mental exercises can be very helpful; focus on staying relaxed 
    - If you enjoy music, you can bring your own playback device to your appointment

  5. Agree some shared rules with your dentist
    - Set a sign or gesture that means you want the dentist’s attention
    - If you find the administration of a local anaesthetic unpleasant, we can use a topical gel to numb the area first and check that the local anaesthetic really has taken before going ahead with the procedure
    - If you don’t enjoy drilling, you can agree to take small breaks in between
    - You can also ask for an oral support to help you keep you mouth open