Nervous about visiting the dentist? It’s time to #openup

Let’s drill down to a reality many people experience, all over the world. Visiting the dentist can be more than just a nuisance – it can make you really scared or anxious. In the worse cases there’s actually a name for it – dentophobia.

So relax – you’re not alone.

To get the bottom of why we think these things, we asked everyday people in Claremont, Nedlands, Subiaco and surrounds to #openup about their fears. Here’s what we found out.


  1. Put off going to the dentist because of your fears

  2. Worry about it being painful

  3. Are scared of needles

  4. Are embarrassed about your teeth

  5. Feel shame, guilt or loss of self-esteem.

Ok, so now we know why you’re accidentally ‘missing’ appointments! But seriously, dental visits are super important – and so is your health and happiness. That’s why we’re on a mission to make you less tense at the dentist.


How can we help you? 

Dr Dominic Etheridge and his team of caring, experienced assistants offer a patient-centred approach that focuses on helping you feel calm and confident about going to the dentist by overcoming anxiety, phobias or fears. Dr Etheridge sets aside plenty of time for you to air your concerns about what makes you feel uncomfortable, including any previous stressful experiences.

You’ll be amazed what happens when you #openup – we’ll return the favour too. From there, we can set out common goals to help tailor your treatment and create a beautiful, confident and healthy smile.

Remember, we’re not here to judge you or the condition of your teeth - we just want to help.

Sedation Dentistry

Did you know that conscious sedation is widely used as a means of reducing anxiety during dental procedures? At Claremont Dental, we offer all three types of conscious sedation: intravenous, inhalation and oral sedation. They can be used for a full range of dental procedures including oral surgery and wisdom tooth removal, implant placement and longer, more complex restorative procedures.

What is intravenous sedation?

Intravenous (IV) conscious sedation is when a sedative/anti-anxiety drug is administered into the blood system during dental treatment to induce a state of deep calm, relaxation and loss of any anxiety relating to the treatment. It is often termed under the category ‘sleep dentistry’ or ‘twilight sedation’, which is in fact confusing as it suggests that IV sedation involves being put to sleep.

This is not the case, and in reality you remain conscious during an IV sedation and are able to understand and respond to requests from your dentist. However, you may not remember much (or anything at all) about what went on because of two things:

  1. IV sedation induces a state of deep relaxation and a feeling of not being concerned by what’s going on.

  2. The drugs used for IV sedation produce either partial or full memory loss (amnesia) for the period of time when the drugs first act until they wear off. As a result, time will appear to pass very quickly, and you will not recall much of what happened. Many people remember nothing at all, so it has seemed like they were ‘asleep’ during the procedure.

This type of sedation may be of great value in enabling the treatment of a particularly anxious patient or one with a dental phobia.

How does inhalation sedation work?

Inhalation sedation uses nitrous oxide (also known as “happy” or “laughing” gas) as a safe and effective sedative agent that is mixed with oxygen and inhaled through a small mask that fits over your nose to help you relax whilst undergoing dental treatment. It is one option that we can offer here at Claremont Dental to help make you more comfortable during certain procedures. It is not intended to put you to sleep and you will be able to hear and respond to any requests or directions the dentist may have. What’s better, the effects following completion of the treatment wear off within a few minutes and you can leave the practice soon after with no further ill effects.

How does it work? Your dentist will ask you to breathe normally through your nose and within a few short minutes you should start to feel the effects of the nitrous oxide. Some people may feel a little light-headed with tingling in the arms and legs, but ultimately, you should feel relaxed, calm and comfortable.

As it is fast, safe and quickly reversible, it is often the preferred sedation technique with children, in emergency situations and for quick, basic dental procedures.

What is oral sedation?

In oral sedation the sedative is either taken in tablet or liquid form.

  • A tablet (often Diazepam or Temazepam) taken one-hour prior to the dental visit can take the edge off any anxiety. Some people may also find it beneficial to take a tablet the night before their appointment to help them sleep.

  • Liquid Midazolam is a safe, commonly used oral sedative. As it is a liquid and can be mixed with orange juice to drink at your appointment, the sedative will usually take effect within about 20 minutes

What else can help if I’m feeling anxious?

What we can offer our nervous patients:

  • Realistic treatment plans with time/action calendars based upon individual patient needs

  • A wonderfully caring support team to look after you emotionally before and after each appointment

  • Extra time devoted to all patients who need it

  • Numbing gel

  • Pain control with gentle dental anaesthesia during visits

  • A relaxed environment with audio and visual aids to further the sense of calm and reduce anxiety.

If you have been avoiding going to the dentist due to fear or anxiety and feel like you could possibly benefit from any of the above, please call one of our friendly treatment co-ordinators at Claremont Dental on 08 9383 1200 to arrange a stress free consultation with Dr Etheridge and his team.

 Click here to see all our services here at Claremont Dental.