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Calming Dental Anxiety

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Going to the dentist is something that people have varying feelings about. Although everyone knows that it is in their best interest to go, it doesn’t make actually going any easier. Firstly is the issue of scheduling; we lead busy and hectic lives and sometimes trying to fit in a dental appointment is a difficult thing to do. Many dental offices have taken this into consideration and have made work hours that are flexible enough to accommodate the busy lives of people (either opening very early so people can get a check-up and a cleaning before work, or staying open late and on weekends so it can be done afterwards). The second thing that may keep people from the dentist’ chair is actually being afraid of going in the first place.

Dental phobias are very real and experienced by many, however a new study suggests that a certain type of therapy for those with this phobia may actually help them overcome it. “All participants took a survey about their general levels of anxiety. They were also asked how anxious they would be about certain dentistry-related events: Three-quarters of participants said they would be extremely anxious about needing to have a tooth drilled, 37% said that just being in the waiting room would make them that anxious, and 72% said they would be extremely anxious about needing an anesthetic injection. All participants then received cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) specifically aimed at reducing their dental anxieties. Most of the time, CBT is a short-term program consisting of up to 10 sessions that focus on proactively changing your reactions to stressful stuff, like, say, having to make a dentist appointment. This usually involves doing “homework,” such as tracking your negative thought patterns, outside of therapy sessions. In this study, participants saw dramatic improvements quickly: After an average of just five sessions, 79% of participants were able to go through their dental procedures without the sedation they usually required.”

The amazing results that CBT was able to provide within such a short period of time is definitely something to take note of. The use of this type of therapy for those with severe cases of dental phobia, paired with the efforts of modern dental offices (creating soothing and relaxing environments that facilitate the best experience possible) will help create better experiences for both dental patients and dental professionals alike.

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