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Dealing with Dental Anxiety

Published: 25 October 2022

Dental anxiety, or a fear of the dentist, is extremely common and something we see in our Clyde Munro dental practices almost every day. Feeling scared of the dentist can show itself in many forms, from mild concern or worry to an all-consuming fear. In fact, the Oral Health Foundation estimate that around half of UK adults admit to having a fear of the dentist, with around 12% having an extreme phobia.

However dental fear presents itself; it can have an impact on oral health ­– we are all guilty of avoiding doing things that we dislike. For some patients, dental fear can prevent them from attending dental appointments entirely, until they are forced to come in due to pain or dental trauma, which only exacerbates the phobia.

Overcoming fear is not always an easy process, but doing so can be beneficial to both your oral and overall health by allowing you to attend routine dental check-ups and hygiene appointments.

Causes of Dental Phobia

Dental phobia is caused by many different factors, which will always be personal to each individual. Quite often, it stems from a previous bad experience in the dental chair, such as pain, discomfort, or poor communication from the dentist.

There are other reasons, such as a gag reflex, worries about the unknown, concerns about cost, and fear of needles or tools such as dental drills. In some cases, fear can be ‘inherited’; if a parent was scared of the dentist, this can be passed down through behaviours that are learned.

Whatever the reason for the phobia, there are always ways to overcome dental anxiety, and your dental team can help with this. At Clyde Munro, our teams work closely with their patients to understand the reasons behind their fears in order to find ways to allow them to access the care they want or need with confidence.

How to Overcome Dental Anxiety

Being comfortable at the dental practice will help to alleviate your fears, but if this is a place you have never, or rarely, visited then it can be difficult to feel a sense of ease. One of the best ways to do this is to visit your dental practice on your own terms, so ask if you can meet the dental team and have a look around the practice before you book an appointment. Your local Clyde Munro dental team will be happy to accommodate you and they will recommend a quiet time for you to visit. This will help you to familiarise yourself with your surroundings ahead of an appointment, allowing you to feel safe and in control.

Once you are comfortable with the dental practice, the next step is feeling at ease with your dentist. To do this, you need to trust your dental team, which is something that your Clyde Munro dental practice will work with you to achieve. We can offer friendly consultations rather than appointments if this makes you feel more at ease to begin with, these can be informal and in a room that is not the dental surgery if you wish.

Our teams are well used to working with nervous patients, so we recommend telling them about your concerns and what triggers your worries. This way, they can work with you and suggest useful tips that have worked with other patients. Before you arrive, think about any questions you might like to ask that will help to fill the grey areas in your mind. In many cases, the more information you have the more in control you feel, which can really help to reduce fear.

Once you feel ready to attend your dental appointment, it is natural to feel some nerves on the day. Even if you are happy in your surroundings and you trust the team, this is a big step, and we will be there to guide you through every moment.

Your dental team can explain what is happening at every stage of your appointment, and you can discuss signs you can use to stop treatment – such as holding up your hand – that will allow you to feel more in control. We can also offer dental sedation for those with more severe dental anxiety.

Distraction techniques can be useful at this stage, too, such as small fidget toys or stress balls. You can bring your own headphones and listen to music, a podcast, an audiobook, or a meditation app during your appointment – whatever helps you to relax – just be sure to tell your dentist so that he or she knows.

How Can Clyde Munro Help with Dental Anxiety?

Your Clyde Munro dental team are very skilled, highly experienced, friendly, and welcoming, so you can rest assured that you are always in the best care when you visit one of our practices. The staff will do their best to help you to feel calm, relaxed and in control of your own dental care at every stage of your treatment.

We have Patient Care Coordinators in each of our practices who are there to ensure patients receive excellent patient care throughout their treatment. This includes creating a supportive and reassuring atmosphere to set you at ease from the outset. They can talk you through your treatment options, away from the dental surgery room, and ensure you enjoy a smooth patient journey throughout your time at the practice.

We can work at your pace, too. If you want to split your treatment into shorter, more manageable appointments, we can create a plan that suits you. This can prevent things from feeling overwhelming and can alleviate fears around costs, too.


Remember that dental fear is extremely common, and you are not alone. If you would like to take the first step towards overcoming your dental fears and getting the dental treatment you want or need, get in touch with your local Clyde Munro dental practice today.