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'I’m Afraid Of The Dentist'

02 Jun 2023

3 min read

By Dr. Azim Malik

Specialist Periodontist and Implant Surgeon


When I was general dental practitioner, I realised that – when it comes to anxious patients – a lot of people are mostly scared of the needle.

One day, a patient came in with her husband and she was in absolute agony.

She needed root canal treatment but she had never had any kind of treatment without sedation.

'I'm scared of the dentist but need to go'

She was very fearful of the dentist and she said she just could not go through with treatment.

But her husband said to me: "Look, something needs to be done. She can't sleep she's in so much pain."

How to distract yourself at the dentist

By this time in my career, I had already started working on my distraction anaesthesia technique.

I said to her: "I'll numb you up and you won't feel a thing. I don't make many promises in dentistry but today I promise you won't feel a thing."

She didn't believe me.

Then she asked me if I was going to use a numbing gel but I told her I was not.


She said: "I want you to use a numbing gel. I won't go through with this without numbing gel."

This time I said yes.

Scared of dentist but need treatment

Then, unbeknownst to the patient, I actually applied some Vaseline.

I gave her the anaesthetic and went ahead with the procedure.

Afterwards, I asked her what she thought about it.

"I can't believe you just did that and I didn't feel a thing," she said.

"And what did you think of the numbing gel?" I replied.

"Fantastic! It works! It's brilliant!"

"I want you to know that I actually used Vaseline. I'm very, very sorry – but I just wanted to show you that it's all in your head."

And she couldn't believe it.

I actually left the dental practice soon after but she came back to my colleague and had a full makeover treatment under local anaesthetic.

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