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Study reveals fear of the dentist still common in the UK

One of the main problems dentists have when it comes to getting patients through the door is convincing them there’s nothing to be afraid of. This is much more easily said than done. Phobias are very hard to overcome, and often it will take a good, reassuring dental session to convince people that your practice isn’t scary.

However, for many people their fear of the dental chair is much greater than any other phobia. The British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) conducted a survey of 2,000 people, asking them if they were more afraid of the dentist than the UK’s 10 most commonly reported phobias.

What the organisation found was that 33 per cent of people rate visiting the dentist as more scary than interacting with other people. Some 31 per cent thought a routine check-up caused more fear than open spaces, blushing, driving, animals or confined spaces.

A quarter of respondents said that visiting the dentist was scarier than spiders or flying, two of the more intense phobias out there, while 24 per cent would rather deal with vomiting and illness than a check-up. With so many scared of oral healthcare, practices need to tailor their dental marketing towards negating these fears if they want to attract more patients.

Part of this is understanding what causes the fear. When asked, 31 per cent of the survey participants said that needles and injections were what scared them about visiting the dentist the most, while 25 per cent said it was the pain that put them off.

Karen Coates, a dental advisor at the BDHF, said: “Most people who are scared of the dentist have bad memories from childhood of the smells and sounds of the surgery. The reality is modern dental surgeries are much friendlier environments with flowers in the waiting room, art on the walls, a pleasant reception area and polite staff. It is an altogether gentler experience.”

Dentists should use their dental marketing to highlight advances in technology, such as the dental wand or numbing gel, that negate the need for injections and relieve pain. Convincing people there is nothing to be afraid of is a great way to get them to come in for a check-up.

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