Tips to overcoming dental anxiety

It’s common to hear people say they’re not keen on going to see their dentist. And although reluctance around dental appointments is not unusual, some people avoid going until they really can’t put it off any longer.  Dental pain is often a motivating factor and at some point, not going to the dentist is no longer an option. 

What can bring on dental anxiety

Often, a bad experience in our past influences our decision making for the future. Dental anxiety or ‘dentophobia’ frequently stems from a negative dental experience, frequently in childhood.   Some people feel very uncomfortable in the close physical presence of others, especially when lying back in a dental chair. Fear of pain, or experiencing more pain, is another reason for dental avoidance. Others may feel embarrassed about the condition of their teeth and perhaps not caring for them as well as they could have. A sense of shame, though unnecessary, is very common, particularly when reflecting on irregular brushing and not flossing. It’s also not uncommon for dental anxiety to be triggered by the thought of dental equipment; sounds, needles and even the smell of a dental clinic.

Top dental tips for managing dental avoidance

Sometimes the first step can the hardest, e.g., making an appointment. Speak with the receptionist about your anxiety. They’re used to hearing experiences like yours. The first appointment with your dentist may just be a conversation to help build trust. They could also recommend sedation options or strategies to help you relax.

  • Deep breathing, progressive muscular relaxation and mindfulness can all be very helpful. Listen to some favourite music via earphones or a calming app on your phone.
  • Take your partner or a trusted friend with you for support.
  • If a loss of control heightens your anxiety, ask the dentist to explain what they are doing. Some people like to have a mirror to watch what’s being done. Plan a signal you can give to stop the procedure, or if you need a break.
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What is sleep dentistry?

If you are a nervous or anxious patient, sleep dentistry could be your answer. Sleep Dentistry, also known as IV Sedation dentistry is a great way for patients to have their dental procedures performed whilst under IV Sedation. Patients are placed into an unaware state by an Anaesthetist, who is assisted by a registered nurse. Sleep Dentistry creates a drowsy and dream-like state of deep, calming relaxation for the entire duration of your dental procedure. Find out more about sleep dentistry today.


Dental care has come a very long way. For some time there has been a strong focus on retaining teeth as much as possible, for as long as possible.  A large part of your dentist’s role is to educate and support you to make your own informed decisions about what’s right for you and your oral health. Overcoming dental anxiety is a partnership, between you and your dentist. Book an appointment today.


Strategies to manage patients with dental anxiety and dental phobia: literature review (

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