In a recent study published in the British Dental Journal, the fear of dental treatment was analysed among over 130 participants. For many, the mere thought of going to the dentist is uncomfortable and unsettling. It often leads to people that never go for routine checkups or even go to the dentist, the side effects of which can be incredibly detrimental.
This new study suggests that the fear of dental work can actually be cured. However, the key may lie within cognitive behavioural therapy. If even the most fearful patients can learn to relax in the dentist’s chair, they may finally be able to have mandatory procedures done without anxiety.
The study in question was held at Kings College. Each participant underwent talking therapy that lead to feeling comfortable enough with dental treatment. In most cases, as many as three-quarters, in fact, the participants were even able to go through their procedures without sedation. This is an excellent sign for those that have always dreaded having their teeth worked on!
This is a very significant breakthrough since even the possibility of sedation only does so much. If someone is outright afraid of even stepping foot in a Dentist to begin with, they are going to let the health of their teeth go unaddressed full stop. It’s a very brutal cycle that will only feed on itself until the underlying phobia can be dealt with.
The study was comprised of nearly 100 women and just over 30 men. Their therapy clinic was held at Guy’s & St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. The vast majority of the group all had major dental phobias. A quarter or so had lesser reservations, such as a fear of specific dental tools or an aversion to the potential pain of the treatments. Around 80 percent of the group was able to deal with their phobia head on, whereas 6 percent still needed sedation. On average, it only took around 5 therapy sessions for them to get over their fears.
As with many mental blocks and phobias, the fear of dental care usually starts with an incident from childhood. In many cases, this event may be repressed or forgotten outright. Other times, it may stem from the mere phobia of blood, pain, personal care in general, or even claustrophobia. A number of factors can come into play, all of which can be addressed through personalised therapy sessions.
So with that, it’s become clear that cognitive behavioural therapy is essential to overcoming a dental phobia. It allows individuals to talk through their worries and eventually overcome them. It’s a very organic solution to what was once seen as a largely incurable issue and its success rate looks very promising.
So, if you know that you need a trip to the dentist but you’re feeling too worried, check out cognitive behavioural therapy, it will help.