Sheffield leads £1.6m pioneering study into dental anxiety in children

A £1.6m pioneering study will launch in Sheffield to investigate whether talking therapies can reduce dental anxiety in children.

A group of dentists and researchers led by the University of Sheffield’s School of Clinical Dentistry and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals is leading the study after it was recently awarded the funding from the National Institute for Health Research.

The study will begin in September and the team is looking for 60 dentists to take part.

Around one in three children are scared of going to the dentist, leading them to end up with poor oral health, dental avoidance and toothache as a result. This study aims to investigate whether Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, CBT, will reduce dental anxiety among children.

Principal Investigator, Professor Zoe Marshman, who is an Honorary Consultant in dental public health at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust, said: “Traditionally, children with dental anxiety have been referred by high street dentists to specialist services for sedation or general anaesthetic.

“This approach does nothing to stop their fear, and they may go on to spend a lifetime avoiding the dentist. A simple and cost-effective way of helping dentally anxious children is desperately needed.”

She believes a new approach based on CBT is the way forward. CBT is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle. It helps you deal with overwhelming problems by breaking them down into smaller parts.

There is strong evidence that this helps people with anxiety and other mental health conditions, however currently very little research into CBT being delivered by dental professionals, rather than separately at hospitals.

Dental professionals or practices who want to get involved with the study can contact for more information.





Written by Madison Burgess

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