overcome fear of the dentist

How To Overcome Fear Of The Dentist

Dentists! One word which has been guaranteed to put me into a tail spin for many many years now.  The last time I properly went to the dentist on a regular basis was about 25 years ago and since then I’ve avoided them like the plague!  Every now and again I would have toothache, find a dentist, do the initial check up and then never go back for the treatment. However, in the last year and a half, I’ve had such problems with my teeth that I’ve now had to have one tooth removed and am looking at  having a root canal.  Two things that would have struck fear in my heart before, but now, even though I’m not looking forward to the root canal, I have to say I’m not dreading it! I searched for years to find ways to help me overcome fear of the dentist – but I ended up coming up with my own solutions! So, if you are as worried as I was, here are my ways to overcome fear of the dentist.

Going to the dentist can be a real phobia for some people. Here is how to overcome fear of going to the dentist

Choose Your Dentist Wisely

I’d always been of the ilk that you find the local dentist to you, go there and that’s about it! After all, that’s what we did when we were kids.

However, things have moved on such a long way since then. So, when I started looking for a dentist, I realised that they come in so many different shapes and sizes. Some small, some large, some chains, some independent. How on earth was I to choose.  So I made the decisions based on the following;

1. Looking at as many reviews of the practice as I could find. This also meant that if I couldn’t find any reviews then I decided it wasn’t the one for me!

2. Checking out what types of specialisms they did.  I wanted to find a dentist which would offer me everything under one roof if I could, rather than forever begin referred onwards!

3. Phoning the practice for a chat.  To me, the manner of the receptionists often tells you everything you need to know about how the practice is going to treat it’s patients.

4. I have a terrible gag reflex, so I knew I needed to find somewhere which did external x-rays rather than the internal ones, so I called them all up to ask!

This then gave me a list of dentists (a rather short list but that was good), to start with.

Make A Pre-Consultation Visit

This was a huge game changer for me when I was trying to overcome fear of the dentist.  I wasn’t really sure what I was frightened of (obviously the pain though!), and I needed to know that the dentist was going to listen to me.  I really didn’t want to go somewhere and be ‘told off’ for not looking after my teeth properly. After all, I already knew that!  So I made some pre-consultation appointments to just have a chat.

Boy, were these illuminating!  Knowing I wasn’t going to have anything done made the visit much easier, and gave me a chance to see what the waiting room felt like and what the dentist’s bedside manner was.  I couldn’t believe the difference!

In one dentist, before even really chatting to me, the dentist said that it was my fault for not going regularly, and he wanted me to come back to show me how to brush my teeth properly. Ummmm…no thank you!  In another, the dentist didn’t take his mask off the whole time I was there, and pretty much didn’t look at me at all.  When I mentioned that I had a bad gag reflex, he said that he would do the work needed as a guess and let me know when I was in the chair how much it was going to cost! Again that’d be a no!  A 

third dentist was really lovely, but when I explained the problems, said that she wasn’t sure she’d be able to do the work and might have to get a specialist in.  This didn’t give me a sense of calm at all!

The one I actually chose in the end met all of my criteria.  They had a lovely waiting room that felt like you were in a spa – music playing, nice smells and a TV on the wall.  All the staff were smiling and happy to see us which was lovely, and the dentist looked delighted to meet us.  I sat in the chair for 20 minutes whilst we chatted about how I was feeling, and he was really calm and explained exactly how he worked.  I’ve never felt so calm in a dentist!

overcome fear of the dentist

Talk About Timings

In some dentists, I have often felt as though they wanted you in and out as fast as possible, which used to make me panic. It definitely exacerbated the fear of the dentist!  However, in my new dentists, after explaining how I was feeling, they happily book me a longer appointment for no extra money, just to ensure I feel in control.  The best thing about that is, because I’m calm it doesn’t take as long, and so I get out sooner! Win!!

Ask For Explanations

The other thing I realised about my fear was, it was mainly because I didn’t know what was going to happen. I felt very out of control and was almost waiting for the pain!  However, I now ask the dentist to explain exactly what he is going to do.  He tells me when he is doing the injection, explains the tools he is going to use and why, and gives me a running commentary so I know when he’s almost done.  I hadn’t realised how much this helped me to overcome fear of the dentist!

The other thing I have discovered since finding my lovely dentist and having my first filling and tooth extraction is – it doesn’t hurt! Not one bit!!! Well, the injection isn’t particularly nice – but that only last 10 seconds maximum, and nothing else he has done has hurt at all!  I spend a LONG time reading up on procedures before I went in, and was almost done in by all the horror stories.  I have a super low pain threshold so was positive I’d feel everything. But not at all!  In fact when he was doing the filling, I almost fell asleep I was so relaxed!

So there you have it. If you want to overcome fear of the dentist, then definitely try the above actions.  They really have made the world of difference to me. I can’t say that I look forward to going, but I certainly don’t dread it any more!

I’d love to know if you have any other tips on how to overcome fear of the dentist! Let me know in the comments!


  1. Glad you’ve conquered it! I have a friend who is dental phobic, and I set up an appointment for her with my dentist, as I thought he would be very good for her. It sounded pretty much like your experience, but her phobia is so extreme that I went in with her each time and sat by her while she was having the work done. She was having a good experience each time, then she went in for the next cleaning and there was a different hygienist who hadn’t been filled on my friend’s issues and she got a little pushy in her recommendations, so that was that!

    1. Author

      Oh bless her – it’s horrible to be so scared of the dentist. I’m so lucky to have found the most wonderful dentist ever and I actually enjoy going now but it’s taken me almost 40 years to find one! I hope your friend is able to go back and conquer her fears!

  2. These are great tips! My hubby hates the dentist after having bad treatment as a teen. These will definitely come in handy when I try to convince him it’s check up time!

    1. Author

      That was exactly my problem – I had a horrible extraction in my teens and really struggled to go back to a dentist after that. But having had my first filling a few months ago – it was a real breeze and makes me so pleased that I conquered my worries!

  3. I have a dentist appointment tomorrow and I’m terrified. I’m always worried they’re going to say bad things even though they never do. This is because I had a cleaning when I was 14 without my consent, just my parent’s consent. I’d never worried about going to the dentist before that. It’s been two years and I still go often because my parents make the appointment so I don’t have a choice. My teeth aren’t bad but I’m always so scared to go in. The worst part is that the dentists there don’t stay long so I have someone different everytime I go. There’s one man who’s been there years who I had when I was little, but he doesn’t take his mask off at all and he’s really rude. Wish me luck for tomorrow!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.