According to a study published in the latest issue of the British Dental Journal (BDJ), a single session of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) could help individuals who suffer from severe dental phobia to overcome their anxieties.
Based on an initial trial of 60 dental patients who relied on having intravenous sedation before any dental treatment could be carried out, the researchers of the investigation concluded that the benefits of CBT were so significant that they recommend dental providers to execute this approach now instead of waiting to pursue further investigations. They highlight that this method saves money for the NHS because patients benefit from not being exposed to the health risks linked with repeated intravenous sedation.
All 60 of the patients had been to a specialist dental clinic in Sheffield for individuals with severe dental phobia. CBT was offered to half the group, out of the 21 patients who accepted the treatment, 20 went on to have dental work done without the need to be sedated. A review of these patients ten years later discovered that none of the 19 patients located who received CBT, had returned to sedation in the past decade.
The authors of "A joint approach to treating dental phobia: A re-evaluation of a collaboration between community dental services and specialist psychotherapy services ten years on", conclude that the benefits of CBT for patients with severe dental phobia appear to last over time.
According to the latest 10-year survey on adult dental health, published earlier in 2011 by the NHS Information Center, as many as 12% of individuals may encounter extreme dental anxiety.
Professor Damien Walmsley, the BDA's scientific adviser, explained:
"Dental phobia is a serious problem because it deters some people from ever going to the dentist, except when they are in severe pain. At this stage, they may require more invasive treatment than might be the case if they went to the dentist regularly. Sadly, this cycle of anxiety, non-attendance and pain is often repeated in the children of those with dental phobia, perpetuating the problem and feeding another generation of oral health problems.Written by Grace Rattue
CBT is one of a range of techniques than can be used to make the experience comfortable for patients who feel especially anxious about having dental treatment, and the results of this study look promising for those who experience severe dental phobia.
All dentists are highly-skilled, caring health professionals who are trained to put patients at ease. Many also undertake additional training in techniques, such as hypnosis, acupuncture, and of course, CBT."