Therapy The Key For Overcoming Dental Anxiety

Newberg family dentist office

At Newberg Family Dental, Dr. Jennifer McLeod understands firsthand that not all of her patients enjoy visiting her Newberg family dentist office. In fact, studies have shown that up 20 percent of American adults put off receiving the dental care they need due to dental anxiety, a condition that causes feelings of anxiety and dread in patients.

Unfortunately, patients who avoid visiting the dentist due to dental anxiety place their long-term oral health at serious jeopardy. But a new study suggests an alternative form of treatment may be available to help patients overcome their fear of the dentist.

Cognitive behavioral therapy could help many people suffering from dental phobia, allowing them to receive the dental treatment without the need for sedation or experiencing any anxiety, according to a new study from King’s College in London.

Overcoming Fear

Feelings of anxiety over visiting the dentist are fairly common; however, it’s only when those feelings begin having a direct impact on an individual’s health that they become a phobia. Patients who avoid visiting the dentist end up suffering from poorer oral health, more dental pain and an overall poorer quality of life.

A short-term therapy treatment that typically lasts between 6 to 10 sessions, cognitive behavioral therapy has been found to help with a variety of psychological problems, including anxiety-related disorder and depression. Studies have found both behavioral and cognitive interventions as effective ways of increasing dental visits by reducing dental anxiety.

Published in the British Dental Journal, the study examined the characteristics of 130 patients attending cognitive behavioral therapy sessions and the outcomes of the patients’ treatments. Patients attending them were also surveyed to determine their levels of dental anxiety, depression, general anxiety, alcohol use and quality of life related to their oral health.

Roughly 75 percent of patients surveyed scored higher than 19 on the Modified Dental Anxiety Scale, a number that indicates a dental phobia. The rest of the patients all scored high enough on the test to indicate the suffered from a specific fear of some aspect of dentistry. Fear of the dental drill or of dental injections were the most common high scoring phobias patients exhibited. Over 94 percent of patients reported that poor oral health problems either had or were currently hurting their overall quality of life.

Of all the patients who finished the cognitive behavioral therapy, 79 percent were able to receive future dental care without the need for sedation. The average number of therapy sessions a patient needed before feeling comfortable enough with visiting the dentist to avoid needing sedation was five.

While the use of sedation during dental treatments offers a workable solution that allows patients to receive the care they need while not being adverse effected by their phobia, this path seek to cure the symptom rather than the cause of the problem. With the result of this latest study, researchers now feel confident they have a lasting solution that can help to permanently address the anxiety caused by dental phobia.

Feeling Relaxed At Your Newberg Family Dentist Office

Patient communication remains one of the best tools for helping those who feel anxiety or discomfort when visiting a Newberg family dentist office. At Newberg Family Dental, Dr. McLeod and the rest of our staff of gentle dental hygienists work with patients in advance of treatment to help reduce any feelings of stress and anxiety.

If you feel uncomfortable or unsure about any recommended dental procedure or treatment, feel free to discuss any uncertainty you may have with any member of our staff. Through open communication, we can help determine the best course of action for your individual treatment, so you can feel comfortable knowing you’re receiving the best care possible.