New self-help guide for kids could stop fear of the dentist

  • Guide uses CBT techniques to help children tackle their fears of the dentist
  • Nearly two-thirds (60 per cent) of children felt a lot less worried about dentist visits after using the guide
  • Study could mean less children going to hospital for a general anaesthetic, potentially saving NHS cash

The number of children with phobias of the dentist could be reduced as experts create the first self-help guide designed to encourage young children to face their fears.

Dentist_fear

Led by academics at the University of Sheffield, the guide uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques to reduce children’s anxiety about going to the dentist.

Over a third of children experience fear of visiting the dentist. This fear can prevent children having regular check-ups and completing vital dental treatment.

The team found that 60 per cent of children felt a lot less worried about visiting the dentist after using the guide, which is available in a paper version or online and includes a range of effective techniques. Designed with children to help them work with their dentist. It uses ‘tools’ such as writing a message to the dentist, squeezing a stress ball and choosing their own small reward.

Dr Zoe Marshman from 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.

“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 National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded the project and the team worked with 48 children and their families at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS FoundationTrust 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.”

The team plan to further trial the guide to determine the cost-effectiveness compared to normal treatments.

The research is published in the international journal ‘JDR Clinical & Translational Research’.

Additional information:

Paper: ‘Development and Testing of a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Resource for Children’s Dental Anxiety’
from journal ‘JDR Clinical & Translational Research’. DOI:10.1177/2380084416673798

The guide and resources are available as paper copies and free online: School of Clinical Dentistry store: http://tinyurl.com/hc998fl Living Life to the Full dedicated dental anxiety website: www.llttf.com/dental

The University of Sheffield

With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2016 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

For further information, please visit: www.sheffield.ac.uk

The National Institute for Health Research

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research.

The NIHR is the research arm of the NHS. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research.

The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research.

Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. For further information, visit www.nihr.ac.uk.

Contact

For further information please contact:
Kirsty Bowen
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
kirsty.bowen@sheffield.ac.uk
0114 222 1034