'I've had patients take their own teeth out': dental anxiety and the treatments that can

At 18, Finn James went to get a tooth removed, and the anaesthetic failed to mask the pain. “The dentist just kept going,” says James. “I didn’t go back to the dentist for decades after that.”

Dental anxiety is one of the most pervasive phobias in Britain: almost half of UK adults have a fear of the dentist and 12% of these experience extreme phobia, which often leads to avoiding the dentist altogether. For James, it meant spending two years with a potentially dangerous, searingly painful abscess. Then he came across a website advertising cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and neuro-linguistic programming methods for anxious patients. “That really changed my life. I just wanted someone to treat me as a person and work with my fears. The first time I saw my new dentist, we spoke for an hour and that really put my mind at ease. For a lot of people like me, the biggest struggle is the shame we feel about letting our teeth get to this state, so we need to be helped without judgment.”

Read the feature in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 19/08/19]