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News UK & Ireland

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0 Comments Apr 20, 2017 | News UK & Ireland

Dental phobia greatly affects patient’s oral health and quality of life

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LONDON, UK: One in three adults in the UK are estimated to have a persistent fear of going to the dentist. The fact that the phobia can lead to more active caries and missing teeth has recently been confirmed by researchers at King’s College London Dental Institute. The findings were based on their analysis of data on thousands of Brits from the 2009 Adult Dental Health Survey with the aim of exploring common oral health conditions of those with dental phobia.

According to the study, people with dental phobia are more likely to have one or more decayed teeth, as well as missing teeth, in comparison with non-phobic people, as they avoid seeing a dentist on a regular basis to have potentially chronic, but preventable, oral conditions treated.

Most adults with dental phobia also preferred an immediate solution, such as extraction, instead of undergoing a long-term care plan, the paper also showed.

In addition to oral health, related quality of life was also poor among those with dental phobia, the researchers further noted, with a large majority showing a high impact on their physiological, psychological, social and emotional well-being, even when levels of dental disease were controlled.

“Other research has shown that individuals with dental phobia express negative feelings such as sadness, tiredness, discouragement and general anxiety, less vitality and more exhaustion,” explained King’s Dr Ellie Heidari, lead author of the study. “Embarrassment at their poor teeth will prevent them from smiling and showing their teeth.”

By providing phobic patients with a detailed at-home oral health care plan, dental practitioners could help reduce acute conditions with preventative care, the researchers recommended. A preventative programme for those with dental phobia, focusing on what can be done to help them avoid acute conditions, is being developed at the institute, they said.

The study, titled “The oral health of individuals with dental phobia: A multivariate analysis of the Adult Dental Health Survey, 2009”, is to be published in the second April issue of the British Dental Journal. It was conducted among 10,900 participants, of whom just over 1,300 were considered to be dentally phobic.

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