Study finds major health consequences for sufferers of severe dental anxiety

June 24, 2015

A recent study out of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found that adults suffering from severe dental anxiety (DA) often struggle with poorer oral health and depression, but that cognitive behavior therapy can help alleviate anxiety.

A recent study out of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found that adults suffering from severe dental anxiety (DA) often struggle with poorer oral health and depression, but that cognitive behavior therapy can help alleviate anxiety.

The study, conducted at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg as part of a doctoral thesis, included more than 3,500 subjects. According to the findings, DA is generally associated with avoidance of dental care, as well as poorer quality of life related to oral health. The study also demonstrated that adults with severe DA are often dissatisfied with the appearance of their mouth, teeth and face.

The dissatisfaction may be associated with poorer oral health, along with depression and general anxiety.

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"People with severe DA are often trapped in a vicious cycle that begins with avoidance of dental care," says Viktor Carlsson at Sahlgrenska Academy. "The next stage is poorer oral health, often followed by a sense of shame and withdrawal from social intercourse."

The study also concluded that the occurrence of ADHD was greater among subjects with severe DA.

"Patients who reported that they suffered from ADHD and who were identified with a screening instrument were among those with the most severe DA and very low self-rated oral health," Dr. Carlsson says.

The thesis presented a systematic review and meta-analysis in support of the hypothesis that CBT is effective in treating severe DA. According to Dr. Carlsson, however, additional studies are needed to evaluate the therapeutic effects with any degree of certainty.

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Dr. Carlsson defended Dental Anxiety in Adults – Psychosocial Aspects, Oral Health and Psychological Treatment on May 29.

This post is reprinted from a release provided by the University of Gothenburg. It has been edited for content and length. More information can be found here.