10:08pm Wednesday 19 February 2020

Oral facts and tips: Dental phobia

Either way, too many people forego a necessary procedure or don’t visit their dentist regularly enough. The inevitable result is poor oral health.

Working out where the problem lies can often help you overcome your fear, and the British Dental Health Foundation is offering the following information for anyone suffering from dental phobia.


1. One in ten people are estimated to suffer from extreme dental anxiety1.

2. Women are more likely to suffer from extreme dental anxiety than men.

3. The most common fears for visiting a dentist are having a tooth drilled (30 per cent) and having a local anaesthetic injection (28 per cent).

4. You are not born with a fear of the dentist. You develop it and can overcome it.

5. Exposure to the sights and surroundings of the dental practice, as a child will help avoid dental anxiety in adulthood.

6. Modern dentistry has evolved to such an extent that it can be almost pain-free.

7. Some practices specialise in treating nervous patients. It is worth asking to find your nearest practice.

8. Relaxation and sedation techniques have been proven in helping to overcome dental phobia.

9. Around 56 per cent of the population have visited an NHS dentist in the past two years.

10. Around 2 per cent of the population have never visited a dentist1.


In addition to the Foundation’s three golden rules for good oral health2, the following tips are recommended for dealing with dental phobia:

1. It might be useful to talk to someone and even see the practice before your appointment. Taking a friend and listening to music might help to relax any tension you have.

2. Make sure your dentist knows you are a nervous patient, including what you most dislike about treatment.

3. Book an appointment at a time of day you feel most comfortable with.

4. Before treatment begins, agree a signal with your dentist that means ‘stop’ in case you need a break.

5. Contact one of the Dental phobia support networks such as http://www.dentalphobia.co.uk/

For free, confidential and impartial advice about how to improve your oral care, contact the Foundation’s Dental Helpline on 0845 063 1188 or email: helpline@dentalhealth.org. Alternatively, visit the Tell Me About section of the Foundation’s website.


Editor’s notes

1. Source: Executive Summary: Adult Dental Health Survey 2009.

2. The British Dental health Foundation promotes three key messages for good oral health:

• Brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day, with a fluoride toothpaste.

• Cut down on how often you eat sugary food and drinks.

• Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.

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