Dental phobia causes and solutions

Dental phobia is one of the biggest causes of the avoidance of dental care in the UK and there are a range of different triggers for dental phobia. But the good news is there are a variety of ways that you can ease your concern. We want to reassure those nervous about attending our practices that support will be readily available to help with any issues around dental phobia.

What causes dental phobia?

There are a number of reasons you may experience fear or anxiety ahead of a dental appointment:
This may be triggered by an experience you have had with a dentist when you were younger which is still on your mind. It can also be due to a poor dental experience where something didn’t go to plan and there was a problem, or miscommunication with your dentist.
Causes of dental phobia
  • You can experience dental phobia at any age, regardless of how many times you’ve previously seen your dentist, and this can be heightened if you often experience anxiety. Your experience after receiving general anaesthetic can also cause you to develop a phobia.
  • If you experience anxiety, this may have increased due to time away from the dentist and you may feel anxious about the safety of attending your dentist.  You may even feel that because you haven’t been able to see your dentist for some time because of closure that the continuity is lost.
  • Dental phobia can also be caused by the fear of needles, pain, choking/gagging or an invasion of personal space, it has many triggers. For advice on how Portman Dental Care aim to keep you safe at the dentist see here.

Case study

Sue's story 

A root canal procedure left Sue Walker with such a phobia of going to the dentist, that she didn’t go for regular check-ups or treatments for more than 12 years.

How to ease your dental phobia

The good news is that our clinicians can ease your anxiety by listening to your individual needs. There are a number of ways that together, we can help to combat your dental phobia. These include:
How to ease dental phobia
  • Filling out a questionnaire to highlight your levels of anxiety prior to treatment can help your dentist adjust the treatment according to your needs.
  • Continuity for patients with dental phobia is very important. If you have a long time away from your dentist, communication can break down, so we advise you aim to visit your dentist regularly to ensure the continuity you need to put your mind at ease.
  • We are now offering video consultations, which may be beneficial if you are an anxious patient. You can discuss your needs with a clinician you know and trust from the comfort of your own home, without needing the added concern of visiting the practice for any more time than is necessary. 


Composite Buildup

Case study

Carol's story

Carol Gerrard suffered from dental anxiety from a very young age, triggered by several negative and traumatic experiences at the dentist as a child.
How to ease dental phobia
  • You can try various relaxation techniques prior to and during your dental treatment. This can include sedation, or at some practices, hypnosis, as well as listening to music during treatment or wearing video goggles.
  • Our clinicians will talk you through the treatment process before you begin if you have specific concerns. This is called pacing and your clinician will explain each stage of your treatment, introducing you gradually to each situation to set your expectations.


    We understand how hard it is for those with dental phobia to come into practice; however, not visiting the dentist for extended periods of time, or even attempting DIY dentistry instead, can be extremely dangerous. We always encourage a preventative approach to mitigate the need further emergency treatment being required.
    We hope that anyone feeling nervous about attending our practices understands that we are here to help answer any questions. The services we provide to help you combat your dental phobia vary from practice to practice. Reach out to your local practice or dentist for support with any concerns in the first instance and they will be able to help.

    COVID SECURE - Our practice remains OPEN and welcoming patients. We have introduced several ways to keep you safe, take a look for more information.