Optimism and humour can help to combat dental fear, study suggests

Some of the most important factors in managing stress during a visit to the dentist include optimism on the part of the patient and an atmosphere of humour in the interaction with the dental staff.

Scientists at the Sahlgrenska Academy have investigated the strategies used by people who suffer from dental fear to cope with dental treatment.

About 50% of the adult population suffer from some degree of dental fear, making it one of the most common fears. In its most serious form it can cause extreme stress and lead to people avoiding dental care altogether, thus dental fear turned into dental phobia.Despite this, most people, and this include many of the approximate 5% of the population who suffer from severe dental fear, do go to the dentist regularly.

In order to increase understanding of dental fear and its causes, scientists from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg have in two unique studies investigated the strategies people with dental fear use to cope with visiting the dentist, including dental treatment.

The researchers could identify five principal strategies used to overcome dental fear: Optimism, self-efficacy (using one’s own internal resources), self-distraction, distancing and prayer.

“The study has shown that patients who adopt an optimistic mindset cope with dental treatment significantly better and they visit the dentist more regularly than patients who spend their time in prayer, despair or catastrophizing”, says researcher Jenny Bernson.

The second study was based on interviews with patients suffering from dental fear, and the interviewed patients mentioned humour as one of the most important factors.

Thanks to the Optimist website for this storydocument.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);

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