Woman with a fear of the dentist hiding her mouth from dental instruments

How to Overcome a Fear of the Dentist

At Coatbridge Family Dental Care, we are confident that we can help you overcome your fear of the dentist. From pain-free injections to listening to your worries , we’ll help you look forward to your next visit to see us.


You’re not alone in your fear of the dentist

Please be reassured that if you have a fear of the dentist, you are not alone. 39% of Scottish adults feel anxious about visiting the dentist according to the most recent Scottish Adult Oral health Survey. But at Coatbridge Family Dental Care, we are on a mission to change this statistic.

Picture of dentist with happy patient
painfree jacqueline

What is dental anxiety?

Dental anxiety is a feeling of anxiety you have when you think about having to go to the dentist. It is a spectrum which can range from a mild uneasy feeling to acute anxiety or panic attacks. Dental phobia is the most extreme end of the spectrum. You may be suffering from a dental phobia if you are so scared of the dentist that you cannot go even when you need treatment.

The first step towards dealing with your dental anxiety is to find a dentist and a dental practice that you like.


Find the right dentist for you


If you’re nervous about the dentist, it’s important that you spend a bit of time finding the right dentist to suit your needs. Not all dentists are the same and not all patients are the same. Gone are the days that you go to the dentist down the road because they are closest.


Find a dentist who understands your needs and fears. If you’re someone who likes to know what to expect, find a dentist who will talk you through procedures. If you hate the sound of the drill, find a dentist who will be happy for you to listen to music during your treatment. At Coatbridge Family Dental Care, we pride ourselves in taking time to listen carefully to you. This means we can tailor our care to you as an individual.


Many of our patients come to us through recommendations from family or friends, or because of reviews they’ve read online. Speak to someone you trust and ask them to recommend a dentist. You can also read reviews online in the same way you would if you were looking for a hotel or restaurant. These will give you a feel for a dentist or practice.

Visit the practice and talk to them about your fear of the dentist


Once you’ve found a dentist you think will work for you, ask the practice if you can visit to look around and speak to some of the team. We like to have our new patients meet with our Patient Care Coordinator at their first visit. This visit is tailored to you, and can be a tour of the practice and a chat over coffee, away from the dental chair. It’s a time to discuss what you’re looking for from your care and any fears that you may have.

Here’s Jill one of our Patient Care Coordinators telling you a little bit about her role in the practice.

You could use this excellent form from Dental Fear Central to help tell the dental team about your fears.

Remember that the dental team deal with people who are scared of the dentist every day. Owning up to your anxieties is a brave step to take and we won’t judge you for it. We want to help you get the care you need.

It might also sometimes be a good idea to bring a friend or family member with you for moral support.

What are you afraid of?


Not everyone who has a fear of the dentist is afraid of the same thing. Here we’ll take a look at the most common fears and give you advice on how to deal with them.

Fear of being powerless


Lying in a dental chair can often give you a fear of powerlessness.

The best way to overcome this is to arrange with your dentist a stop signal at the start of your appointment. We always ask patients to raise their hand if they need a break or if they are uncomfortable in any way.

This stop signal gives you control of the situation. Our patients find it very helpful in removing their fear of feeling powerless.

Stop sign

Fear of the noise of the drill


Many people hate the noise of the drill. Playing your favourite music through headphones can be a great way of drowning out the noise. We have many patients who love to do this.

Fear of Pain


The key to pain-free dental treatment is good anaesthesia. If your mouth is numb then any treatment we carry out is pain free. Nowadays, dentists have many different techniques, plus powerful anaesthetics to make sure you don’t feel any pain. At Coatbridge Family Dental Care we use a computer-controlled system which gives a deep numbness using an amazing pain-free injection.


Don’t forget about your stop signal though. If at any point during treatment you start to feel uncomfortable, you can stop your dentist. They can give you more anaesthetic to make things even more numb if necessary.

Article about pain-free injection at Coatbridge Family Dental Care for nervous patients in Daily Record

Fear of Needles


Fear of needles is very common. In fact 28% of those asked reported feeling extremely anxious about having a dental injection, in The Adult Dental Health Survey (UK) 2009.

Many people are afraid of dental injections because of the pain associated with them.

But can we do anything about this?

The speed at which we give a dental injection is the biggest factor in whether an injection is painful or not. Forcing local anaesthetic through the tissues of your mouth is what causes pain. This happens when we give an injection too quickly.

When we give a dental injection slowly, the local anaesthetic seeps gently into the tissues. Using this technique gives a pain-free injection.

At Coatbridge Family Dental Care, our computer controlled system controls the rate at which the anaesthetic is delivered. This ensures that every injection we give you is slow and pain-free.

A further benefit of this system is that the anaesthetic wears off quickly after your procedure. Meaning you won’t have the feeling of numbness for the rest of the day.

We also make use of topical anaesthetics. These are gels which numb the surface of your gum, to make the initial insertion of the needle pain free.

Although this is rarely the cause of pain from injections, the psychology of having a numb gum at the site of an injection can help.


Fear of Choking


We often have patients who come to see us who are worried about choking. This choking sensation can come from the gathering of water at the back of the throat during treatment.

Telling your dentist and, particularly your dental nurse, that this is something you’re nervous of can be helpful. Nowadays, dental nurses are very skilled at high volume suction, removing all the water in your mouth while your dentist works.

At Coatbridge Family Dental Care we also often work with extra suction called a saliva ejector. You can hold this and use it to help keep your mouth free of water. Having this control can often help to deal with a fear of choking.


And don’t forget your stop signal. At any time you feel too much water is gathering at the back of your mouth, raise your hand. Your dentist will stop and your dental nurse can clear out any excess water that has gathered.



One of the most common procedures that can bring on a fear of choking or gagging is having a dental impression. I can still remember the mouthfuls of goo that I had to have taken when I was 14 and having braces to straighten my teeth. The good news is that at Coatbridge Family Dental Care we have invested in state-of-the-art digital intra-oral scanners. These allow us to take a three-dimensional scan of your teeth which removes the need for dental impressions.

Fear of being judged


Many people put off going to the dentist because they’re worried about what the dental team will think of their mouths. At Coatbridge Family Dental Care, we promise no judgement.

As healthcare professionals, our priority is to help you to become healthier and happier. We do this through treating any problems you have and showing you how to best take care of yourself.

Our clinical team have over 40 years of experience of treating people with empathy and kindness, and absolutely no judgement.

Fear of being told you need treatment 


So many people tell us that they are scared to come to the dentist because they know they need treatment. This comes from the old-fashioned culture of dentistry. Where people only went to the dentist when they had pain and they had to have something fixed.

Nowadays our modern focus is very much on prevention. Coming regularly to see us for a dental health check allows us to catch things that are happening in your mouth early and reverse them. For example, early tooth decay and gum disease are reversible.


Tooth decay and gum disease are also preventable diseases. By helping you to look after your mouth we can ensure you don’t need any future treatment. As dentists, in all honesty, our favourite outcome is for you to come to see us and not need to have any treatment done.

I Still Feel Scared


There are those of you out there who, despite all these techniques, will still feel extremely scared of the dentist. You don’t need to feel embarrassed. We all have fears. Some of us have a fear of and some of us are afraid of heights. Your fear happens to be dentists. If you are still struggling with a fear of the dentist, dental sedation may be the answer for you.

Dental Sedation for Phobic Patients


Dental sedation is a safe technique which allows anxious or phobic dental patients to successfully have treatment.


With sedation we put you into a state of relaxation. This allows you to have dental treatment carried out that in the past you didn’t feel you would ever be able to cope with.


You are awake during the treatment, but afterwards you will have no memory of it.


We offer an in-house, calming sedation service at Coatbridge Family Dental Care. This is run by one of our experienced and caring dentists, Ainsley. Our sedation service takes referrals from dentists in Airdrie, Cumbernauld and all over Lanarkshire.

In this video, Ainsley answers some commonly asked questions about sedation.

“I’m delighted to have finished my dental treatment with Ainsley. She has been amazing at supporting me with my phobia. I felt she took the time to truly understand my fear and then adjusted everything she could to make my treatment a manageable experience. I trust her 100% and cannot thank her and Moona enough for their kindness and support. Ainsley is absolutely brilliant! “

How we can help reduce your fear of the dentist


At Coatbridge Family Dental Care we are experienced in dealing with different individual fears. We also strive to make your whole experience of coming to the dentist a positive one. We do this by having:


  • A welcoming reception
  • A well-trained and caring team
  • A calm atmosphere
  • Dentists who listen to all your concerns


We want you to look forward to coming to see us, like this lovely patient:

Five star google review of Coatbridge Family Dental Care by patient with fear of dentist

Summary – How to overcome your fear of the dentist


You’re not alone if you have a fear of the dentist. The most important thing you can do is research and find the best dentist and practice for your needs. They will be out there!


Know that dentistry has changed significantly in the last few years. There are many techniques we can use to help you overcome your fears.


But most importantly, remember that the focus of your dentist nowadays is prevention. Going regularly means that we pick things up early, which significantly reduces your need for treatment. A win-win if you have a fear of the dentist.

Post written on 5th October 2022

(Please note prices and information are correct at time of publishing and may be subject to change. Please contact us on 01236 421103 or info@coatbridgedentist.com for the most up-to-date pricing and information)