What can cause dental phobia and what can be done to help?

dental phobia options

Feeling nervous about visiting the dentist is something that can affect children or adults and it can stem from a wide variety of factors. Depending on the root cause of the problem and the age of the patient, different tools and techniques can be tried out in order to try and offer the necessary reassurance to overcome this.

If a child has had a bad dental experience while young (for example having a tooth knocked out and needing treatment, having an oral injection that caused pain) then the memory of this may remain with them into adulthood.

For adults, the cause of dental phobia may be due to a number of reasons:

  • A very common reason for these feelings is due to the perceived lack of control in the situation, some patients report feeling vulnerable in the dentist’s chair which leaves them feeling agitated and anxious
  • Some struggle to trust dentists (and possibly other medical practitioners too)
  • Some may also have had a negative experience in the past which has left them ill at ease with dentistry in general,
  • Others may have suffered from a head or neck injury which has left them feeling uncomfortable with the positioning required for the dentist to access their mouth, or just generally concerned with having more treatment in that area,
  • If there is another condition that patients are suffering with (such as acrophobia or claustrophobia) then this can compound the issue.

Encouragingly, many adults who have suffered from dental anxiety in the past report that finding a dentist who is understanding and sympathetic to their feelings helps enormously in terms of finding a way to overcome how they feel. Here at CK Dental our team appreciates the challenges that anxiety can cause patients and we are here to help in any way we can.

Looking at dental phobia coping methods

There are many tips and techniques that can be utilised to try and mitigate these feelings. Taking deep, rhythmic breaths can help slow down your heartbeat and help you feel more in control. This will also help reduce sweating and the feeling of palpitations caused by a racing heartbeat. Distractions are also an effective technique. Trying to focus the mind on something completely different can really help take your mind off your worries. Many patients suggest listing to music, audiobooks or podcasts; all of which are a good source of distraction in this situation.

If all else fails, then speaking to your GP about a referral to a psychologist can really help. Techniques such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) can help you understand more about what it is that is causing you so much concern, and experts can help with bespoke coping techniques.

Another option is dental treatment under sedation. Referred to sometimes as ‘twilight sedation’, conscious sedation involves putting the patient into a semi-conscious state that allows them to be comfortable throughout their treatment, whether it be a simple cleaning or a more invasive, lengthy dental procedure.

Here at CK Dental practice in Bristol, we are also one of the very few dental practices in the UK to offer dental treatment under general anaesthetic. General anaesthesia can only be administered in a hospital environment, which is why CK Dental, which is located within Nuffield Health Bristol Hospital, The Chesterfield in Clifton, is perfectly placed to offer this service.

Call us on 0117 905 9866 to arrange a consultation to discuss treatment options for dental phobic patients.