There is fresh hope for the many people around the globe who are terrified of going to the dentist. New research suggests that a course of counselling can help to overcome the fear of sitting in the dentist's chair. The research was conducted by the King's College London Dental Institute Health Psychology Service. It focused on the effects of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in treating dental phobia, also called dentophobia. Researchers discovered that the biggest fears among patients were of pain-relieving injections and the dentist's drill. Doctors believe that between six to ten sessions of CBT are enough for patients to be able to have stress-free visits to a dental surgery and cure this phobia.
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Researchers say that over 10 per cent of people suffer from extreme anxiety about seeing their dentist, which stops many people from getting dental treatment. This level of anxiety often results in more dental problems because people delay going to the dentist until they have a toothache, by which time the treatment will be more painful. Three per cent of patients surveyed admitted having thoughts of committing suicide rather than seeing a dentist. Lead researcher, professor Tim Newton, said: "The primary goal of our CBT service is to enable patients to receive dental treatment without the need for sedation, by working with each individual patient to set goals according to their priorities."