Comfort comes first – Cheryl Hayes Carestream

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  Posted by: Dental Design      16th April 2019

In a dental practice, ensuring that your patients feel comfortable from the moment they step through the door is important. After all, if a patient arrives at your practice feeling nervous it is likely that these feelings will negatively impact their experience. This is especially true for any patients who experience dental anxiety or dental phobia.

Patients with these fears need to be fully understood so that practitioners can take steps to ensure that they are helping the patient relax and combat these negative feelings.




A significant problem

It is estimated that as much as half of the UK population suffer from dental anxiety in some form. 12% of this group even report that their anxiety extends far beyond simple fear, and therefore can be considered to have dental phobia.[i]This means that millions of people across the UK are likely to come to the dentist feeling anxious, unwilling and even terrified of what may happen.


So what are the main triggers for dental anxieties?

Perhaps one of the most commonly stated causes for dental anxiety is trauma derived from a past bad experience. A previous visit to a dentist that has caused pain or which hasn’t solved a problem can easily become the focus of dental anxiety, especially if this fear has been left to grow over time. What’s particularly interesting is that research has shown that this event does not need to be dental specific – any bad healthcare experience may trigger a fear of visiting the dentist, and this may be because healthcare environments share certain characteristics.[ii]

Another leading trigger is the fear of pain. This trigger may again be linked to past bad experiences, but for some people the very idea that dental treatment could hurt is enough to put them off – especially if they have read material online of people’s painful experiences, as these may be hyperbolic and contain false information.

Another cause for dental anxiety may be that the patient struggles generally with anxiety or depression in the first place. One study that evaluated the relationship between dental anxiety and those who suffer from psychological disorders found that there was a clear link between the two, and that this may be because dental anxiety and dental phobias could actually be psychological disorders as well.[iii]

A further reason behind dental anxiety may be that the patient has certain other fears or issues that are exacerbated by a dental practice. For example, those with trust issues may find placing themselves under the care of a professional difficult, as it means they have to relinquish control. Furthermore, anyone suffering from agoraphobia (the fear of feeling like you cannot escape) or claustrophobia, may also find dental treatment difficult, especially during processes such as the acquisition of diagnostic images where they are required to stay still.[iv]


What we can do

As you can see, dental phobia is a multi-faceted and complex issue. As every patient is likely to have their own particular trigger points or reasons as to why they feel anxious, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly how to avoid aggravating these fears.

However, one step that is universal is to ensure that all areas of your practice have a welcoming, soothing atmosphere. Studies have found that even minor factors such as playing classical music can help to alleviate stress, so it is a good idea to explore how these steps can make a difference to your practice.[v]

What’s also important to focus on, is how to enhance their comfort during treatment. It is likely that anxieties will reach fever point when the individual is called in to see you, and therefore you need to try to make the experience as pleasant as possible.

Investing in equipment that has been designed to enhance patient comfort is a key way to achieve this. This is important even within the diagnostic process to ensure that patients don’t have their anxiety triggered – which is not only unpleasant for them but which may also impact your ability to diagnose and treat them properly.

The CS 8100 3D imaging system from Carestream Dental is a particularly good choice as it is highly accessible for all patients. Not only does the open, face-to-face design help to put patients at ease, but the system also takes images in just 7 seconds.

Their feelings first

As such a high proportion of the population are anxious about visiting the dentist it’s necessary that practices take steps to reassure individuals that there is nothing to worry about. By understanding the root causes of these fears and implementing comfort-enhancing features into your practice, you can make a serious difference.


For more information, contact Carestream Dental on 0800 169 9692 or


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[i]Anxiety UK. New Partnership: Centre for Dentistry. Link: [Last accessed January 19].

[ii]Better Health. Dental Anxiety and Phobia. Link:[Last accessed January 19].

[iii]Yildirim, T., Dundar, S., Bozoglan, A., Karaman, T., Dildes, N., Kaya, F., Altintas, E., Oztekin, F., Atas, O., Alan, H. Is There a Relationship Between Dental Anxiety, Fear and General Psychological Status? PeerJ. 2017; 5: e2978.

[iv]Better Health. Dental Anxiety and Phobia. Link:[Last accessed January 19].

[v]Thoma, M., La Marca, R., Bronnimann, R., Finkel, L., Ehlert, U., Nater, U. The Effect of Music on the Human Stress Response. PLoS One. 2013; 8(8): e70156.

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