Few people genuinely enjoy going to the dentist. It’s okay. Our feeling aren’t hurt. We understand that people go to the dentist, because they HAVE to, not because they WANT to.
Some people hate going to the dentist so much, they have “dental phobia.” It’s believed that about 9 to 15% of Americans avoid their dental appointments, because of an extreme fear of the dentist.
The British Dental Health Foundation found that about 36% of people avoided the dentist because of an extreme fear. Fear of the dentist usually occurs early on in life.
Most children with dental anxiety also have parents with dental anxiety. It’s not uncommon for a painful dental experience as a child to follow you into adulthood, causing you to want to avoid the dentist.
People with dental anxiety are at a higher risk of gum disease and tooth loss. Avoiding the dentist can cause cavities to fly under the radar and gum disease to go untreated.
In most cases of dental anxiety, a patient feels uneasy before their appointment and in the dental chair. In more intense cases of dental phobia, a person might even feel physically ill at the thought of the dentist.
Fortunately, dental anxiety can be treated. With advancements in medicine, you can treat your dental anxiety with sedative medications, or you can seek Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
Combating Dental Anxiety with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
New research published by the British Dental Journal wanted to find out if Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was an effective treatment for dental anxiety cases.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of “talk therapy” that’s based on the idea that all of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations are connected. The belief behind Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is that anxiety stems from a cycle of negative thoughts.
When the cycle is broken down into smaller parts, it can help you understand your problems and change your negative thought process.
They followed 130 participants with intense fear of dental treatments. All of the participants went to treatments after “talk therapy.” About 75% of the patients feared the dentist, and 15% feared some aspect of the dentist, like the drill or needles.
In talk therapy, patients were asked to set goals to overcome their fear of dental treatments, rather than putting a bandaid on the illness by using sedation.
The study found that 79% of the patients were able to solely use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to alleviate their anxiety before their treatments, instead of succumbing to sedation. About 6% of the participants still required sedation for their treatments.
The study found that on average patients only needed a minimum of 5 Cognitive Behavioral Therapy sessions before being able to undergo treatments without sedation.
According dentist, Dr. Ben Atkins, who uses cognitive therapy, he helps patients overcome their dental anxiety by helping them feel in control and pain free.
If you’re suffering from dental anxiety, you should think about seeking help through cognitive behavioral therapy. The best way to overcome fear of the dentist is by talking to your dentist.
The best way to overcome your fear of the dentist is by talking to your dentist and being honest about your anxiety. Communication is key to feeling comfortable in the dental chair.