Oxfordshire’s Biggest Invisalign Provider

Helping nervous patients in Oxford beat dental anxiety

We are proud to be a leading dental phobia certified dentist in Oxford, specialising in successfully helping nervous patients beat their dental anxiety.

Our highly skilled dental team who are experienced at helping nervous patients includes highly experienced dentist Dr Ajay MurgaiGDC No:85639, who has over 15 years cosmetic dentistry experience and is also a Dental Phobia Certified dentist.

Most dental procedures are not painful, but at The Smile Practice in Oxford and Didcot we understand that you may feel apprehensive about visiting the dentist. A phobia is characterised by an intense, irrational fear.

If you suffer from dental phobia you might have put off routine dental care for years or even decades. This could mean you’ve put up with periodontal disease (gum disease), tooth pain or even a broken tooth.

At The Smile Practice, we have found that people with dental phobia are at a higher risk of early tooth loss and gum disease. Avoiding the dentist might also have an emotional impact as well, as damaged or discoloured teeth can make you feel insecure or self-conscious.

What happens if dental phobia is not treated?

People with dental phobia may also suffer from poorer general health, as poor oral health has been linked to serious conditions such as lung infections and heart disease.

If dental phobia isn’t treated, it will only get worse over time. Yet it is treatable and our friendly team at The Smile Practice welcome nervous patients and are here to help you overcome your anxiety and have a comfortable and positive dental experience.

Dr Ajay Murgai is a
Dental Phobia Certified
dentist Click Here to verify.

Causes of dental phobia

Dental phobia can develop for a number of different reasons, including:

  • Pain – you might have a fear of pain that is contributing to your dental phobia. This is often caused by early dental visits that took place before modern, pain-free dental advances became available.
  • Loss of control and feeling helpless – it is common to develop phobias about situations in which you have no control. This helpless feeling can trigger anxiety in the dental chair if you feel you can’t see what’s going on or can’t predict how the treatment will feel.
  • Embarrassment – If you haven’t visited the dentist for a long time you might feel embarrassed about your teeth, especially if you’re self-conscious about the way they look.

Symptoms of dental phobia

Some symptoms of dental phobia include:

  • Feeling tense or having trouble sleeping before a dental appointment
  • Increasing nerves when you’re in the waiting room
  • You feel strong emotions when you think about going to the dentist and seeing dental instruments increases your anxiety
  • You feel physically ill when you think of visiting the dentist
  • During appointments, you panic or have breathing difficulties when dental instruments are placed near your mouth

How to deal with severe dental anxiety

Visiting the dentist can be a difficult experience for those with dental phobias. It can make all the difference when patients find a dentist who understands their feelings and knows how to help them through their anxiety.

Patients may never get over dental phobias, but there are some ways in which you can make the experience of visiting a dentist more comfortable.

Talk to the dentist about dental phobia

It is so important for patients to communicate concerns to the dentist. Dentists at The Smile Practice are trained to make examinations and treatments easier for patients with dental phobias.

Dentists can explain the processes of an exam or treatment step-by-step, so patients know what to expect and give recommendations on how to relax during an appointment.

Breathing exercises

Deep breathing exercises can help a patient relax and feel calmer. Closing of the eyes, inhaling through the nose, and exhaling through the mouth in a deliberate manner can help to ease any nerves or anxieties a patient may have.

Bring a friend or relative

Sometimes the support of a friend or a relative is enough to relieve anxiety. Patients should ask the dentist if bringing a friend or family member to the appointment for support can be arranged.

This may be difficult during the Coronavirus pandemic, but it is worth asking the dentist if the patient feels it would make their experience that much easier.


Anxiety can build up in the dental surgery waiting room or in the dental chair. Many patients use meditation techniques to reduce stress and promote calmness during the appointment or treatment.

Anxiety relieving medication

Some dentists can prescribe short-acting anti-anxiety medication to help lessen anxiety. Patients should discuss this with their dentist to explore the option.

General anaesthesia

Dentists who have received specialised training can administer general anaesthesia for patients experiencing dental anxiety. General anaesthesia will ensure that the patient is fully asleep or unconscious during a dental procedure.

How common is dental phobia or anxiety?

Fear of the dentist is incredibly common and is estimated to affect around a third of the UK population at varying levels. For many patients, dental phobia is disturbing but not disabling. Patients should discuss any anxiety when booking the appointment and with the dentist before any exam or treatment.

If you would like us to stop your dental anxiety

If you experience any of the above symptoms, please tell one of our friendly staff members at The Smile Practice.

Please call us on 01235 602101, or email us on info@thesmilepractice.com. You may also wish to pop into our surgeries in Oxford city centre or Didcot, Oxfordshire, to make your appointment in person.

You’ll soon overcome your fears and feel comfortable and calm in our warm, relaxing environment. We will also adapt our treatment methods to ease your anxiety and make your appointment as stress-free as possible.

Nervous patient reviews via Google my Business

“I am very nervous of the dentist and also have Parkinson’s which adds to my anxiety levels. I have been treated with respect and total understanding. I have been made to feel safe and well cared for.

They have gone out of their way to accommodate me and I highly recommend their friendly professional service”

“I visited the Smile Practice and was seen by Ajay, he made me feel at ease as I am a nervous patient who does not like going to the dentist. Ajay checked my teeth which I knew were not in a good state due to all the damage over the years as well as not visiting a dentist regularly.

He explained what needed to be done he showed me my xrays and took me through what was wrong with my teeth. He was very positive and reassured me that he could fix my teeth and restore my smile. I felt confident in him and did not feel pressured to have the work done.

He put together a plan and asked me to go away and have a think about it and if I wanted to go ahead to make an appointment with him. I decided to proceed with the work and Ajay started by removing my wisdom tooth, followed by two root canals, some fillings that needed replacing.

I then went on to have three crowns fitted and a cracked tooth which I thought would need to be pulled out which he managed to build up and put a crown on. I was so pleased with the fact that I did not need an extraction and that he was able to restore my smile.

For someone that was so nervous and scared of the dentist I found that he was able to make me feel relaxed and with every appointment he was explaining what he was doing which I found reassuring. I can truly say that the whole experience from start to finish has been a positive one and I would highly recommend Ajay and the Smile Practice.

I can’t stop smiling and showing off my teeth instead of hiding away, I feel more confident and now intend to keep up with my checkups.”

Google Review Rating
The Smile Practice is rated 4.4 out of 5 based on 175 ratings on Google


I am dropping a note to say thanks for all the work you have done for me, I am aware that I am not the easiest of patients. Your patience and explanations whilst work is underway was very much appreciated. The bridge work is really outstanding, here’s hoping I need nothing more than routine checks for some time.
- Mr R G
we are registered and regulated by
General Dental Council BDA goodpractice member CareQuality Commission