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Dental Anxiety and How to Deal With It

Dr.Anna Beattie Profile Image

Last Reviewed 18 August 2016

Medically reviewed by Dr.Anna Beattie, Bachelor Dent. Sc. (Trinity College Dublin) 2003, PG Diploma in Conscious Sedation (Newcastle University), Clinical Doctorate in Oral Surgery, Fellow of the Dental Faculty of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Oral Surgeon

If the thoughts of visiting your dentist fill you with anxiety, you are not alone.

This post will aim to shine a light of what might be causing that anxiety, why it is so common and what we can do to help.

What Causes Dental Anxiety?

Dental anxiety - Dr. Simona Kostova

There are many things that can cause dental anxiety. For example, quite a lot of kids in the last century were forced to endure school dental visits sponsored by the government.

Many veterans of these visits have horror stories to tell, because the quality of dentistry was very much a matter of luck. 

There's also something known as vicarious learning, which is where you develop a fear of something because of hearing about the bad experience of someone else.

How Common Is Dental Anxiety?

Studies have shown that as many as 3 in 4 people admit to some degree of fear about a dental visit.

While the studies indicate that more women than men are afraid of going to the dentist, it could simply be that women are more open about discussing fear. 

Why Should I Not Be Scared Of The Dentist?

Dental Anxiety - Dr. Jennifer Mc Philemy - 3dental
Jennifer Mc Philemy Explains How 3Dental Dentists Relax Their Patients

Modern dentistry is much more efficient, reliable, safe and comfortable than it generally was in times past.

Your dentist will never do something that you haven't consented to, so you don't have to worry about getting a big surprise.

I'm Feeling Anxious - What Should I Do?

If you are feeling nervous, the best thing you can do is simply consult your dentist and talk with them about their methods and how they would perform an examination of your teeth.

You can then make informed decisions about the treatment of those problems.

It can also help to talk with people who have recently received any kind of dental treatment, especially if it is a treatment similar to that which you are seeking. Check out our testimonials page to see and hear about the experience of our former patients.

What Can Dentists Do To Calm Patients?

Treatment co-ordinators - 3dental

We offer oral and IV sedation which is used to calm those patients who are extremely anxious. 

We also provide treatment co-ordinators who are there to walk you through your patient journey. This includes answer any questions or concerns you may have, letting you know what you can expect and will be your dedicated point of contact throughout your treatment.

Can Dentists Tell If You Have Anxiety?

Treating dental anxiety is a skill on its own. Sometimes people can have anxiety and not show it, whereas, in others, it can be more obvious. 

There may also be hints in the patient's medical history, but if you are an anxious patient, you should discuss this with your dentist before beginning treatment. 

The initial consultation is a great time to build a rapport with your dentist and disclose the fact that you are a nervous patient. There may be options that can make treatment more comfortable for you.

Can Dentists Give You Anything For Anxiety?

Your dentist may prescribe anti-anxiety drugs, such as temazepam or diazepam (Valium), which you can take one hour before a scheduled dental visit.

Your dentist may also recommend conscious sedation, such as intravenous (IV) sedation.

We also offer oral sedation using temazepam in liquid form, which we provide the patient with onsite 30 minutes before their appointment.

Here at 3Dental, our dentists are experienced with treating anxious patients and will work at a pace that makes you comfortable.

How Long Is Too Long To Not Go To The Dentist?

You should attend the dentist at least once a year for a routine check-up and every 6-12 months for a hygiene appointment, solely based on needs.

The yearly check-ups will allow the dentist to monitor your oral health and treat any cavities early before they progress, needing further treatments, which will be more invasive and costly, ultimately saving you money in the long run!

Can I Be Put To Sleep Before Dental Work?

Dental anxiety

We offer conscious IV sedation meaning that you are awake but you feel very drowsy.

The drug used is very effective and produces an amnesiac effect, meaning that you most likely won't remember the procedure.


As mentioned in the opening sentence, you are not alone if you filled with dread and anxiety at the thoughts of visiting the dentist.

However, rest assured we are well versed at dealing with anxious patients and will make your experience as comfortable and pain free as possible. 

Get in touch today to see how we can help :)

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