The scale of dent-a-phobia in the UK revealed

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The Health and Fitness Blog

The Health & Fitness Blog is a collection of diary entries, news, gossip and other Health and fitness related information.

The scale of dent-a-phobia in the UK revealed
Millions of people in the UK have fears and phobias. New research in the Anxiety Report from the Professional Panel on Dental Anxiety (PPDA)1 reveals that fears about visiting the dentist or hygienist is one of the most common fears and keeps many people from the treatment and care they need to keep their teeth and gums healthy2,3. Fear of needles and injections leads one out of every 10 people to forego necessary dental work and causes a further one in twelve to cancel appointments.

The PPDA has been formed to help people overcome these fears and make dentistry more comfortable3. They commissioned both quantitative and qualitative research to look at people's dental phobias and knowledge about their own dental health.

Wayne Williams a specialist prosthodontist on the PPDA says “Millions of people in the UK are scared of visiting the dental surgery, so we formed the PPDA and undertook this research to try and help them overcome their fears. Overlooking their oral health, because of anxiety, can have quite serious and unnecessary consequences.”

The research found that most people in the UK have some kind of fear or phobia - 63%. Most of those who admit to such fears are women (71%). Men's top fears are heights (26%), dental visits (17%) and injections (12%). For women, it is heights (32%), spiders (31%) and dental visits (22%) with 12 per cent of women citing injections. Eighty-eight per cent of dent-a-phobes say they dread having an injection with 60 per cent hating the post-injection numbness.

Forty-six per cent of dent-a-phobes say they would do anything to avoid going to the dental surgery; 44% only bite the bullet and attend the surgery when they have a problem.
60% feel panicky
60% feel hot, cold or sweat
36% feel faint
24% feel nauseous
14% are embarrassed
22% experience a dry mouth
20% say they heart starts racing
19% get tummy problems
13% start sweating
8% get a headache

Peaks in anxiety are felt at the beginning of the process, when the examination first begins and when an injection is required. One in five people have made excuses for not visiting the dentist (21%) and youngsters are the most likely to cop out (30% make excuses). Unfortunately, many people do not realise what damage they could be doing by avoiding dental visits. Nearly half of the population wrongly believe that tooth decay and cavities are the biggest cause of tooth loss (45%). The fact is that gum disease4 is the biggest cause of tooth loss. The primary cause of gum disease is dental plaque. No matter how well one brushes one's teeth, it is impossible to get them as clean as a dentist or hygienist can. Gum disease is even linked to other health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, respiratory diseases, diabetes and premature births. Gum disease is avoidable, however, and even when it has begun, it is usually possible to halt its progress and treat its effects.

Scaling and root planing (SRP) is the chief treatment for gum disease, but a massive 75 per cent of people do not know what SRP is. This lack of dental knowledge goes further, with almost half the population (47%) thinking that gum disease will turn their teeth yellow and 58 per cent of people thinking it will cause cavities. Both of these theories are FALSE. Forty-six per cent of dent-a-phobes say that SRP worries them.

Coinciding with the release of the Anxiety Report, is the launch of a major way to reduce patients' dental anxiety. Oraqix™ (25/25mg per g periodontal gel [lidocaine, prilocaine]), is a dental anaesthetic that requires no injection. It contains lidocaine and prilocaine – both trusted anaesthetics to numb the gums. Oraqix is a liquid in a special dispenser, which the dentist or hygienist applies to the area where the tooth joins the gum, prior to dental procedures, such as probing, scaling or root planing4.

Oraqix is a patented liquid, which turns to a gel at body temperature, so it stays in the right place for best results. Clinical studies show it starts working in 30 seconds and lasts up to half an hour (average 20 minutes). It can easily be re-applied if necessary. Oraqix does not leave the mouth numb after treatment, so there are no problems with speaking, eating or drinking post-treatment and no accidental damage to the tongue or the inside of the cheek. As soon as the patient leaves the surgery, they can carry on with life as usual.

Sally Goss, a hygienist on the PPDA says: “I have used Oraqix on a number of patients now and the response has been overwhelming. Before, some people were either refusing an injection and putting up with painful procedures or grinning and bearing an injection. Of course, many were avoiding coming in for treatment at all. Oraqix provides effective pain relief without the need for an injection and no lasting numbness. It is a real benefit to all our patients, especially those who are a little nervous.”

When Oraqix was described to dent-a-phobes, two-thirds said that they would be less afraid if it was available at their dental surgery (66%) and half would be more likely to attend (50%).

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Posted : 04/04/2006 23:11:26

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