Self-Help Guide Launched For Children With Dental Anxiety

A self-help guide has been launched to help children with dental anxiety deal with the issue themselves.

The guide was launched with the hopes to help children with dental anxiety combat their fears. In turn reducing the number of children with phobias of the dentist.

children with dental anxiety, self help guide

Academics at The University of Sheffield led the production of the guide for children with dental anxiety. The guide uses cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques to reduce children’s anxiety about going to the dentist. Over a third of children experience anxiety over visiting the dentist. This can prevent them having regular check-ups and completing vital dental treatment.

The team in charge of the guide found that 60% of children felt a much less worried about visiting the dentist after using the guide. The guide is available in a paper version. As well as online and includes a range of effective techniques. It is designed with children to help them work with their dentist. It uses methods such as writing a message to the dentist, squeezing a stress ball and choosing their own small reward. These methods were found to have a positive impact on children with dental anxiety, as the figure shows.

Dr Zoe Marshman, working at the University’s School of Clinical Dentistry said:

“Children who are scared of the dentist often end up with poor dental health and stay scared of the dentist for the rest of their lives.”

children with dental anxiety, self help guide

“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.”

The project is funded by The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

The team working on the guide worked alongside 48 children. As well as their families at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and a community dental clinic in Derbyshire.

Dr Marshman added:

“The guide was designed with children to give them choice and control to challenge commonly held unhelpful thoughts and provide information on dental procedures.”

children with dental anxiety, self help guide

The teams have plans to continue the trial further. However, they have to plan the cost effectiveness compared to normal treatments.

If you know any children with dental anxiety, or anxiety in general, you may find this previous article useful. Do you have any tips for helping children dealing with dental anxiety? We’d love to know!

You can find a dentist near you who empathises with dental fear by clicking here

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