How To Be Less Anxious At the Dentist

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I went to the dentist this week. And I will admit, I was quite nervous. I had to hold it together as I was with my 2 year old. She enjoyed her visit I think, and I came out wondering why I had been so anxious. But I realised that am not alone in being anxious at a dental appointment. So, here are 10 ways how to be less anxious at the dentist.

*This post is a collaborative post – please see my Disclosure Policy for more details – this post also has been updated – it was first published in August 2018

10 Ways How To Be Less Anxious at the Dentist

Statistics say that almost half of UK adults are scared of the dentist, and 12% of those that are anxious suffer from a real phobia. Whether you are visiting a small village practice or a large busy dentist Glasgow way, a lot of people are very scared of the whole dental experience. So here are some tips that may help.


1. Get there on time

Nothing is worse for anxiety than rushing and knowing that you are late. First of all, If you are visiting somewhere for the first time scout it out beforehand. Then you will know exactly where you are heading, and will be able to give yourself plenty of time. It is better to be 20 minutes early than 5 minutes late.

2. Have a book to read in case they run late.

This often does happen, so take a book or magazine. Or play a game on your phone, because this helps to take your mind off what you are about to do.

3. Take some music

And also some headphones. This can help to reduce the noise or the drill, if that is what puts you off. Do arrange with the dentist before you put your EarPods in what the signal to stop is though.

4. Hold a friend’s hand

Sometimes having a friend or partner there can really help.

Don't be scared - here are the top 10 ways to be less anxious at the dentist- or scared of dental visits.Use these ideas and learn how to control your phobia of any dental clinic. Follow these tips and never have dental anxiety again!

5. Practice self hypnosis or meditation

Try and distance yourself from the whole experience using deep breathing and picturing yourself being in more pleasant surroundings. For instance, imagine that you are on a beach or in a tranquil forest.

6. Find a sympathetic dentist

If you ask friends and relatives, you will very likely find someone amongst them who is also anxious. Maybe they can recommend a good dentist in the area? At the end of the day, if a dentist has been recommended by a fellow anxious patient, that dentist has a pretty good idea of what is patient experience and therefore is probably going to be a good choice.

It may help to work out exactly what you are scared of. It could be injections? Maybe it is drilling? Perhaps you had a bad experience as a child? Do write a list and discuss these fears with your dentist. Also ask all the questions that you need to. They will listen and be able to tailor your treatment around your anxieties. Arrange a signal that you will use to tell the dentist to stop if you need a break during the treatment. Alternatively, if you are looking for a dentist on behalf of your child who doesn’t feel comfortable at the dentist, you might want to click here to learn about pediatric dentists who, if you are in Phoenix, could be a great option. These professionals will have trained to work specifically with children, so will know how to communicate effectively with them in order to calm any nerves they might have.

7. Think Positive

Try not to think negative thoughts. Most dental problems can be sorted painlessly. And even if you do know that you need lots of treatment, this can be done in lots of small steps if you wish.

8. Go regularly

The hardest step is the first step in meeting a new dentist. Once you have met and built a trust with someone, it is important to go regularly and maintain your healthy mouth. As a result, if you go regularly your future visits should mainly be just examinations and/or routine cleaning.

9. Look after your teeth and gums

Do brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, and use floss or brushes to clean between the teeth regularly too. Don’t eat too much sugar between meals. And don’t smoke or chew tobacco. It is important to say that there is a lot of evidence linking poor mouth health with lots of other health conditions. So looking after your teeth is part of looking after yourself as a whole.

10. If you do panic or faint, don’t give up or be hard on yourself

Remember – you are not alone in your fear. Do not berate yourself, be angry with yourself or think that it is stupid to feel the way that you do. It really is a common phobia, and by even visiting a dentist you are making brilliant progress at facing your fears.

I am sure that if you use all these tips that you will find that you become less anxious at dental visits. Do reward yourself after your visit, that way it becomes a more positive experience.

I would love to hear your comments about how these 10 ways how to be less anxious at the dentist work for you. Or if you have any other ideas I would love to hear them

Thinking of Teeth Whitening? Read my thoughts here.

Or does your child have a dental phobia? read 10 Ways To Help Your Child Not Be Anxious At The Dentist

Found this post useful? Why not pin it for later?

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18 Replies to “How To Be Less Anxious At the Dentist”

  1. Suktara Purkayastha says:

    Why didn’t I get this post before. I had a horrible dental surgery last year. My dentist was terrible just terrible and my recovery has been long and slow. But nevertheless these are some great tips!

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Oh, what a shame. Unfortunately not all dentists are created equal, and I hope you find someone better in future!

  2. Vaibhav Mehta says:

    Find a sympathetic dentist…I swear I laughed for quite some time reading that lol Interesting read!! I’d listen to music I supoose

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      I do assure you there are sympathetic ones out there! Me, for a start! But glad it made you smile if nothing else. 🙂

  3. Art of Me says:

    I’m not a fan of the dentist and I have a pending visit. Your blog will be with me lol

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      I hope that your visit goes well. And that these tips do help.

  4. jasmin closson says:

    Oh m geeeee! Where was this article my whole 7 years of adult life. THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS!

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      You are most welcome. I have spent pretty much all of my career trying to put patients at ease. I just am glad that it can help. Thank you for such a lovely comment.

  5. Stephanie Stebbins says:

    My two phobias are the dentist and cockroaches. I am always petrified when I go, but I still go after I talk myself down forever, lol. These tips might help so thank you so much!

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      I do hope that they help, even in a small way. The hardest thing you ever do is walking through the surgery door. I always say that to patients. If you are still going then you are facing your fear, for which you should be proud of your achievements.

  6. Jo Boyne says:

    Thank you. If one person is helped by this post, then that is enough.

  7. Thomas says:

    I didn’t know that so many people were afraid of the dentist. I will say one thing I never had a dental visit that I liked.

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      A lot of people are apprehensive. Some people are terrified. If this article gives some help then I am pleased with that. Thank you for your comment!

  8. tracy says:

    I have a really great dentist. If the little ones need dental work more than a cleaning they have a room with a TV on the ceiling so the kids can watch. Pretty cool. #bloggerclubUK

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      That is very cool. The most I ever got was a poster on the ceiling!

  9. Caz / InvisiblyMe says:

    I’m glad you’ve updated and republished this as I think dental phobia might be all the worse for many during the pandemic. I’ve not been now in quite some time and I think that alone makes going back all the harder, let alone fears over the virus itself. You’ve given some really good suggestions. Music can be such a benefit when it comes to general anxiety but I hadn’t thought of using it in the dentist’s chair. Getting a sympathetic dentist can also make a big difference, but from my experience they’ve been hard to come by!


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