Fear of the dentist affects millions of Americans. Sedation dentistry helps many of them, but like some, you may be interested in alternatives. What about therapy?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is short-term treatment to help patients face their dental phobia. Psychologists at King’s College London Dental Institute used CBT to help patients change their negative thoughts—replacing them with positive thoughts.
130 patients (31 men, 99 women) who had different levels of anxiety participated in psychologist-led therapy. After therapy, 79% of patients had dental treatment without sedation. 6% had dental procedures with sedation. On average, after five CBT sessions, patients were able to complete their dental appointment without being sedated. The Dental Fears Research Clinic at the University of Washington, which teaches anxiety-management skills, has achieved similar results.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can have five therapy sessions for your dental phobia and be good to go. Each case is different.
Why face your dental fear?
Picture with a woman sitting in a dental chair with one thumb up, who might have overcome fear of the dentist with therapy or sedation.Whether you choose sedation dentistry, cognitive behavioral therapy, or some other way, it’s important to face your dental fear. Putting off dental appointments can cause more harm to your oral health than you think.
· Most cavities can be prevented or detected early. When you practice good oral hygiene at home and keep your appointments for regular cleanings and exams, it can help keep cavities away. Your dentist has the tools needed to detect cavities before the progress. This can help you avoid the need for dental fillings and root canal treatment.
· If a tooth is already weak or decaying, a dental filling or a dental crown can prevent the need for root canal treatment. You can avoid losing the tooth altogether and needing a costly dental implant to replace it.
· A thorough dental exam includes an oral cancer screening. Delays in screening can lead to serious health problems.
If you suffer from dental anxiety, schedule an appointment with a gentle dentist just to talk about it. He or she will try to understand the source of your fear, make the effort to help ease it, and offer suggestions to help you get regular and productive dental visits.
This post is sponsored by the San Jose family dentists of Hillsdale Dental Care.