It has been my long held belief that for many, if not most patients suffering from Dental Phobia or Dental Fear that treatment under sedation should be kept in reserve as the solution of last resort. My view is based on our experiences helping people with dental fear and phobia in our dental practice in Edinburgh over the last 20 years. The concern I have with sedation is simply that when you are sedated you will remember nothing of the process. Now on the face of it sounds good, however the downside is that your subconscious never has the opportunity to learn from the experience so you remain dependent on sedation to have treatment carried out. If you then ever are in a situation where you require dental care and sedation is not available then you will have to face your fears with no priorpreparation, which is not in my view a great plan.
A study published in this months British Dental Journal has provided me with some evidence that we are thinking along the right lines in this regard. The study looked at a group of patients who underwent Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help with dental phobia around 10 years ago. The results were fascinating, of the patients who underwent the CBT 95.2% were able to undergo dental treatment without sedation after treatment with CBT. What was even more amazing to me is that after 10 years 100% of these patients continued to be able to receive dental care without sedation.
While one would hesitate to call this a “cure” for dental fear, this study certainly suggests that it comes very close. To return to my original point interestingly less than 5% of all patients needed sedation after receiving some professional help with their dental anxiety.
Many people are resistant to theidea of any knd of “therapy” in the UK however this is a concept that is becoming out dated. Just as logging on to an online forum to share experiences with others in a similar situation can help, CBT should be seen as just one of the many tools that you can be used to help overcome your dental fears.
Let me know what you think?
Have a great week