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CBT techniques being piloted to help children with dental phobia

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A self help guide has been produced to facilitate and support children to face their dental phobias head on. The study, led by the University of Sheffield, hopes to cut down the amount of children feeling anxious about attending their dentist through the use of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) techniques.

Figures show that around a third of young people have a fear of dentistry which, inevitably, can have a knock on effect on children’s dental health and hygiene. The study, funded by The National Institute for Health Research, worked with forty eight children from the South Yorkshire and Derbyshire areas. Academics from the university found that a significant number of children in their study, around the sixty percent mark, felt much more comfortable with going to the dentist after reading the guide. The guide offers an array of practical activities to help children manage anxiety, such as, rewards, stress balls and writing a letter to their dentist.

Another positive aspect to the study is the potential for saving the NHS money, as fewer children would need hospital visits or sedation for treatment. Dr Zoe Marshman, an academic involved in the study, spoke on the subject, “At the moment, most of these children end up having sedation or being given a general anaesthetic for their dental treatment. This can be a traumatic experience for children and their parents as well as incurring high costs for the NHS.” Further trials involving the self help guide are planned for the future.




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