Afraid of the dentist?

Afraid of the dentist?

There is no need for people afraid of the dentist to give their appointments the brush-off, according to a leading oral health charity.

The British Dental Health Foundation believes while many people will make a dental appointment heading into 2015, the small percentage of the population who are afraid of the dentist remain unaware of significant advances to the practice environment.

The Adult Dental Health Survey identified one in three patients suffer from moderate dental anxiety but that approximately one in eight suffer are terrified. The British Dental Health Foundation asked more than 2,000 people about their first childhood memories of the dentist, with the most reoccurring answers including ‘pain’, ‘the smell of the gas and the mask over your face’ and that is was ‘sore, uncomfortable and scary’. In fact, more than eight out of ten answers focused on pain, fear, injections, gas and drilling.

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation Dr Nigel Carter OBE wants us to know that things have changed.


“Treatment can now be almost completely painless. The Wand is a great example of a new piece of technology for anyone with a needle phobia. It doesn’t look or feel like a needle, which from experience can really help a nervous patient. A numbing gel can be used to numb your gums before an injection if you would like that extra layer of comfort.”


“Many dentists offer techniques such as sedation and relaxation to help their nervous patients. They can offer appointments at a time of day that suits you best. Remember to communicate with your dentist – tell them you are nervous. Agree a sign that means ‘stop’ beforehand. You can even take music or a friend along.”


“Modern dental surgeries are much friendlier environments with flowers in the waiting room, art on the walls, a pleasant reception area and polite staff. Of course, you’ll still have the smells and sounds of the dental surgery but these are less noticeable than they used to be.”


“The use of gas has reduced to coincide with improvements in dental health. Dental practices no longer carry out general anaesethics. Getting a first appointment in is a huge step to reducing the need for major dental treatment Regular appointments will help to identify and treat problems at an early stage.”


“If you feel uncomfortable with the dentist, you can now book an appointment with the dental hygiene or dental therapist. Talk to them about where your problem lies and about your lifestyle habits. Even before they have had the chance to look in your mouth, they will be in a position to judge your risk of poor oral health.”

If you would like to discover where you can get pain-free treatment, please visit

If you have any questions, you can contact our Dental Helpline. It is staffed by fully trained oral health experts offering free and impartial advice. You can contact the Helpline by calling 0845 063 1188 or through the website at