Nervous Patients

Does the thought of going to the dentist make you feel nervous? It shouldn’t have to. Ask our team how we can help.

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Proper Care for Nervous Patients

Did you know that as many as one in 7 Australian adults experience high dental fear? Dental fear, anxiety and phobia can be debilitating mentally and physically for nervous patients, and can cause you to avoid seeking treatment when it’s most needed.

When you avoid visiting the dentist, a small oral health concern can develop into a larger and more costly one. Learn more about how the team at Kelmscott Dental can help you alleviate and overcome your dental fear. For more information or to ask a question, call our team (08) 9495 7999 or alternatively book an appointment online.

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Causes of Dental Fear

If you’re scared of the dentist, you’re not alone. There might be a number of causes for your dental fear, however most commonly, dental fear is caused by a previous traumatic dental experience. It may also be caused by:

  • traumatic experiences of loved ones in a dental or healthcare setting

  • other trauma, including abuse or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  • a history of head or neck trauma

  • generalised anxiety or other mental health conditions

Building a trusting relationship with your dentist and talking to them about what’s causing your anxiety, is the first step towards overcoming it.

Breaking the Cycle

Dental fear and pain go hand in hand. Studies show that people with high dental fear are more likely to put off a dental appointment. This is when a minor oral health concern goes untreated and becomes complex, causing pain.

If you only see a dentist when you’re in pain, it reinforces the message to expect this experience each time. This type of feedback induces a cycle of shame or guilt for not seeking treatment sooner, and fear ultimately becomes worse. What can often be caught and treated early with a preventive treatment may turn into an emergency trip to the dentist.

The team at Kelmscott Dental can help you to break the cycle of fear, allowing you to take back control of your oral health. Speak to our friendly team today about tailoring your experience for your upcoming appointment.

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Cycle of dental fear

Better Patient Experiences

Choosing a dentist with a high level of empathy is key when it comes to deciding on who to go to for dental treatment. When you choose a dentist from Kelmscott Dental to look after your oral health needs, you’re guaranteed a high standard of care. Discover what to expect from your first visit.

The advancement of dental technology is another aspect of dentistry that’s transformed patient care. Software such as 3D digital scanning avoids the use of trigger-inducing dental putty and intraoral photographs help to show you exactly what your dentist sees.


Helping Nervous Patients

There are a number of ways in which your dentist can help you feel more comfortable and relaxed about your upcoming appointment. Here are some of the recommendations we offer to patients:

  • Talk to your dentist

  • Agree on a hand signal

  • Use relaxation strategies

  • Use distraction techniques

  • Ask about sedation options

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Dental fear and nervous patients

Talk to Your Dentist

  • Book an early appointment to avoid anticipation

  • Call ahead to ask any questions

  • Talk about what’s causing your dental fear

  • Relay any triggers so your dentist can plan to avoid them

  • Tailor your plan to break down chair time into smaller visits, or request a longer appointment to complete treatment earlier.


Agree on a Hand Signal

A lack of control is a common concern for many patients. Using a hand signal to stop for short breaks whenever you need, can help you to feel in control and manage dental fear.

There’s no need to force yourself through your appointment if you’re nervous or uncomfortable. When your dentist or hygienist is aware of your dental anxiety, they’re able to block out more time to factor in short breaks.

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Relaxation Strategies

Trying a number of relaxation techniques before your appointment time, may help to calm you down before upcoming treatment.

  • Meditation and breathing techniques to help clear the mind and calm your breathing down

  • Progressive muscle relaxation (slowly releasing physical tension from your head down to the toes)

  • Use guided imagery to visualise positivity

Check YouTube for guided imagery and meditation videos that may be of use before your appointment date.

Distraction Techniques

Distraction can be a useful tool for soothing nervousness. We encourage our patients to make the most of our surgery rooms’ media systems for a calmer, more comfortable experience.

  • Bring headphones to listen to music, podcasts, audiobooks or watch a program or series on our ceiling-mounted TVs

  • Squeeze a stress ball or occupy your hands with an object

  • Bring a friend along for emotional support

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Sedation Options

If you’ve unsuccessfully tried the strategies above, ask us about dental sedation options. Our practice is equipped to provide a range of sedation options for all types of treatments, no matter how big or small. Our sedation options include:

  • Local anaesthetic / Numbing gel

  • Oral sedation

  • Sleep dentistry (intravenous (IV) sedation)

  • General anaesthesia (provided in day surgery)

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Don’t Wait for Pain

Waiting to visit the dentist can cause unnecessary pain and feed the cycle of dental fear and anxiety. The gentle and caring team at Kelmscott Dental can offer practical advice on how to help you feel calm, comfortable and confident during your dental treatment. For more information or to book your first visit, call us today or book online.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What causes dental fear?

The main causes of dental fear include:

  • past dental experience or trauma
  • fear of pain
  • embarrassment
  • loss of personal space
  • side effects of anaesthesia
  • lack of control
  • fear of needles

Talking to your dentist and explaining your concerns and past experiences can help you both plan for your upcoming appointment.

What are some signs of dental fear?

Our dentists are perceptive and are trained to identify signs of dental fear, which may include:

  • visible distress or panic (facial expressions, fidgeting)
  • heart palpitations
  • withdrawal
  • using humour or aggression
How can I overcome dental fear?

We’ll work with you to make you experience as comfortable as possible. We recommend the following steps to ensure your appointment is well planned for:

  • Call ahead to ask questions, advise any triggers to avoid
  • Use a hand signal for breaks
  • Bring a friend for support
  • Book an early and quiet appointment time to avoid anticipation and minimise sound
  • Use relaxation strategies to calm you before an appointment
  • Use distraction techniques, such as headphones, TV, squeeze a stress ball
  • Ask about sedation options
What coping strategies do you use to manage dental fear?

Our dentists at Kelmscott Dental use a combination of communication, distraction, relaxation and sedation methods to help patients reach the right comfort levels for treatment.


Book an obligation-free implant consultation with Dr Norcross today!



Comprehensive Dental Assessment for $350 (valued at $516) includes:

  • Comprehensive examination
  • 2 check-up x-rays (if required)
  • Full mouth panoramic x-ray (if required)
  • Treatment planning


Contact us today to learn more about our dental services, to book an appointment or if you want to chat about your options.


(08) 9495 7999
2915 Albany Highway
Kelmscott WA 6111, Australia

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Kelmscott Dental is your local choice for your friendly, family dentist servicing the Kelmscott, Armadale and Gosnells areas as well as surrounding suburbs.


We offer a range of flexible payment options including Zip, Afterpay and SuperCare to help you access treatment sooner.

Opening Hours
Mon: 7:30am–5:30pm
Tue: 7:30am–5:30pm
Wed: 7:30am–5:45pm
Thu: 7:30am–5:30pm
Fri: 7:30am–4:30pm

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Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.