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Dental Phobia: Facing Your Fear

Dental Anxiety Awareness - World Mental Health Day - No More Dental Fear

About Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia

Many of us have experienced fear of something in our lifetime like spiders, heights, failure, flying… With all of these things, generally the longer the fear lingers, the harder it is to address.

“Dental anxiety is one of the more common specific phobias and anxiety conditions for which Anxiety UK receives numerous requests for support every year” says Nicky Lidbetter, Chief Executive at Anxiety UK.

Mild fear and anxiety before a visit to a dentist or doctor is common. It becomes a concern, however, when the fear or anxiety stops people getting the treatment they need and leaves them struggling with toothache, discomfort or dissatisfaction with the way their teeth look. This most extreme type of dental anxiety is classed as a dental phobia (also known as ‘odontophobia’).

According to statistics from the Oral Health Foundation, almost half of UK adults have a fear of the dentist, with 12% of these suffering from an extreme dental anxiety or phobia. In addition, visiting the dentist is ranked number one for making people nervous – even more popular than a fear of heights. However, as many people do not feel comfortable talking about their phobias, it is thought that these figures could be a lot higher.

The importance of oral health

Dental health is an important part of your overall wellbeing and it’s important to remember that poor oral health is not simply about toothache and decay. It has a much wider impact on general health than you may think. Research over the past decade has revealed growing evidence linking poor oral health to serious health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, problems during pregnancy and dementia.

Despite the clear links between dental health and overall wellbeing, over 50% of people don’t visit the dentist regularly and 2% of the population have never seen a dentist. Combine this with the fact that nearly half the population are unhappy with their teeth, 31% of adults have tooth decay and 29% of us suffer from regular dental pain, and there’s a real issue.

Helping patients overcome dental fear

Fear is only as powerful as the representation in your mind and the key to overcoming it is to interrupt the pattern.

At Centre for Dentistry, our Face Your Fear programme actively encourages nervous patients to confront their dental anxiety. By taking small steps to become familiar with their dental practice, our patients feel increasingly comfortable and confident to undergo vital treatment. We invite our patients to come in and have a look around, speak to the team, have a conversation with the dentist and even sit in the dentist’s chair to familiarise them with the environment, without the need to have treatment done there and then. Plus, we serve a reassuringly good cup of tea!

Our patients are a mix: from children and entire families, to students, professionals and retirees. The message is clear: we help to tackle our patients’ fears so they can undergo their treatment and benefit from the results of a healthy, confident smile.

Breaking down the barriers

Our five senses are heightened in an environment we consider fearful. In a dental environment traditionally we can smell the products, hear the sounds of the instruments, see a pristine clinical environment and maybe have experienced the ‘not so gentle’ touch of the dentist.

At CFD, as our practices are in Sainsbury’s supermarkets, we are distracted by the sound of shoppers, children’s laughter and tills ringing. From the practice you can smell freshly cooked bread and we see a clinical but welcoming environment. Everything down to the colours of the walls are chosen to instill a sense of calm. Most importantly, we have professional, highly trained clinicians with a gentle touch. They are experts in dealing with patients who suffer from fear and anxiety and they understand that a patient’s previous dental experiences may not have been quite what we offer at CFD.

We don’t want our patients to feel fearful or to be humiliated or embarrassed about their dental health. So before you ‘take flight’, have a chat with us in Sainsbury’s. We don’t want you to suffer from the debilitating feeling of fear or worse, for your dental health to suffer. We want to put a smile on your face – a confident one – in every way.


Here at Centre for Dentistry, we’re determined to make a difference!

New patients often say to us that they have put off going for so long as they are afraid it might be painful or because they have had a bad experience many years ago. It’s a pleasure seeing the transformation of these same patients as they work with our dentists to successfully overcome their dental fears and get back into routine dentistry.

“I hate going to the dentist, it petrifies me. But I have to say, this place is excellent, I can’t fault them on any level.” – Tony, CFD patient

“Going to the dentist is no longer an appointment to dread! I’d recommend to anyone – but especially anyone who fears dental appointments.” – Karen, CFD patient

“Awesome service! I had a huge phobia of the dentists for many years due to the pain and trauma as a child… My faith in dentists is restored, as is my smile.” – Sheldon, CFD patient

“Excellent service, a pleasure to go to a dentist and not be scared… would recommend to anyone.” – Barbara, CFD patient

With the support of Anxiety UK, we want to raise the profile of dental anxiety in the UK and encourage people who may have been avoiding going to the dentist due to fear to seek help and take those first steps. Download our dental anxiety guide for information, tips and case studies of people who have successfully overcome their fear of the dentist.

Your Next Steps

1. Download our brochure for more information and tips on dealing with dental anxiety and dental phobia >> Read our Dental Anxiety Guide to #NoMoreDentalFear

2. Contact your local practice to see how they can help you feel at ease. You can also call Centre for Dentistry’s dedicated helpline to talk to someone about your dental fears or worries. We’re available on 0333 1234 225 from 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday.

3. Email us at

4. Visit your local practice for a cuppa and a chat with our friendly team – you’ll find us inside Sainsbury’s.