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Therapy plan for people petrified of the dentist
PANICKED patients who are petrified of the dentist are to get therapy to get them back in the chair.
NHS bosses in Worcestershire are developing an improved dental anxiety management service to help patients conquer their fears.
Health leaders estimate that about 12 per cent of the population of Worcestershire (67,000 people) have some kind of phobia of going to the dentists.
About a quarter of patients who attend the Evesham, Worcester and Kidderminster dental access centres say dental phobia is the main reason they do not have an NHS dentist.
The plans by NHS Worcestershire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust involve teaching cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) sometimes called ‘a talking therapy’ to dental nurses which helps patients tackle their phobia so they can be more at ease at their family dentist.
NHS leaders are planning to get a cognitive behavioural psychologist to train three nurses over the summer how to apply CBT to patients at a specialist location to “reduce dental phobia in severely anxious/phobic dental patients”.
Nigel Crew, dental commissioning manager at NHS Worcestershire, said some patients at the severe end of the scale were petrified of going to the dentist.
He said: “Sedation can take the form of relative analgesia (laughing gas), intravenous (IV) sedation and general anaesthesia.
“IV sedation has not previously been delivered locally.
“Each of these is used in carefully prescribed circumstances. IV sedation involves giving a mild sedative by injection into a vessel in the arm. The patient does not go unconscious but does become peaceful and less anxious.
“There is sometimes an amnesiaeffect, meaning less is remembered. Severe dental anxiety/phobia can manifest itself in panic attacks and make it extremely difficult for a patient to receive treatment.
“This can have a serious impact on a person’s oral health, and potentially general health.
“Most patients experience some anxiety when going to the dentist, and this is perfectly normal.”
The aim is to provide a specialist service which complements general dentistry.
Dental leaders from NHS Worcestershire gave a presentation at a meeting of the health overview and scrutiny committee (HOSC) at County Hall on Tuesday.
NHS Worcestershire has invested £1.4 million in increasing dental capacity in the county with increasing the number of NHS dental places available over the last four years.