dental anxietyDental anxiety could lead to feelings of shame, poor self confidence and social isolation, a new study has shown.

Published in the International Dental Journal, the study also found that being afraid of the dentist also negatively affected key elements of social wellbeing, such as income and education.

Those questioned were almost twice as likely to be on a lower income if they feared the dentist.

‘About one in five Brits admit to being afraid or anxious about visiting a dentist in Britain,’ Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, said.

‘This is an incredibly widespread anxiety and is one of the key reasons why people don’t visit the dentist as often as they should.

‘This can put you at risk of significant oral health problems and, as this research shows, other important areas of your life.’

Dental anxiety

Around 10 million adults in the UK suffer from dental anxiety, according to the Oral Health Foundation.

A recent study in the British Dental Journal (BDJ) found that patients could overcome their anxieties using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

In the study, 21 patients with severe dental phobia underwent CBT, with 20 of those going on to have dental treatment without requiring sedation.

‘Dental phobia is a serious problem because it deters some people from ever going to the dentist, except when they are in severe pain,’ Professor Damien Walmsley, the BDA’s scientific adviser, said.

‘At this stage, they may require more invasive treatment than might be the case if they went to the dentist regularly.

‘Sadly, this cycle of anxiety, non-attendance and pain is often repeated in the children of those with dental phobia, perpetuating the problem and feeding another generation of oral health problems.

‘CBT is one of a range of techniques than can be used to make the experience comfortable for patients who feel especially anxious about having dental treatment.’