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Dental Anxiety

  • A recent poll has revealed that 67% of British people admit to suffering anxiety when visiting the dentist. For some people, this anxiety can be extreme and can prevent attendance for many years. As such, this blog examines the different techniques that can be used to help with dental anxiety and encourage regular attendance.

    By Yasmine Qasim

The poll, by the Oral Health Foundation in conjunction with Oral-B, showed that 33% of us fear pain and discomfort, whilst 26% worry about being told the cost of dental treatment and 8% are worried about being told off by their dentist.

Dental anxiety is a longstanding concern. A previous survey by the British Dental Health Foundation reported that 1 in every 7 adults suffers with extreme dental anxiety. Furthermore, visiting the dentist is the number one cause of nerves, significantly higher than visiting other medical professionals including doctors.

An unfortunate consequence of dental anxiety is that some people will simply choose not to attend dental appointments. This can have devastating consequences for your teeth, as general dental practitioners will assist patients to maintain excellent oral hygiene levels and monitor the onset of infections and diseases. If, for instance, unmonitored periodontal disease is allowed to develop, this can have further repercussions and be expensive and painful to treat.

If you suffer dental anxiety, you may find it beneficial to:

1. Speak to your dentist about your concerns – as they are trained to deal with anxious patients and will take their time to ensure you are at ease.
2. Make an appointment in the morning – thereby leaving less time to dwell on the treatment.
3. Take somebody with you to your check-up – the reassurance and support may prove useful.
4. Maintain exemplary oral hygiene – use electric toothbrushes and practice interdental cleaning to reduce plaque build-up and the likelihood of complications.
5. Consider sedation in cases of extreme anxiety.

Although the above may help some people, for others the thought of attending the dentist can be terrifying, and result in acute anxiety or panic attacks. This extreme fear can stem from bad childhood experiences, or something like the associated smells of the dental surgery. However, there is an increasing awareness of dental phobias and much more support available than ever before. National Smile Month 2017 runs from 15 May – 17 June (you can see our last blog about this here). One of its main aims is to reassure the public that there is no reason to be nervous about dental visits.

It is important to remember that if you do suffer from a dental phobia which is preventing you attending the dentist or from having dental treatment you desperately need, it is very important that you seek help to overcome your phobia in order for you to resume your dental treatment.

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