Worrying cycle of dental anxiety impacting family health, research finds 

Worrying cycle of dental anxiety impacting family health, research finds 

New research from Bupa Dental Care has found that nearly half the population (44%) dread visiting the dentist and 76% of those put off the visit entirely.

The study shows that people’s dental anxiety can be traced back to childhood. Nearly two thirds of respondents who suffer from dental anxiety have a family member who is anxious about going to the dentist. Around 36% said that this fear has contributed to their own dread.

This fear creates a cycle of dental anxiety. One in five put off taking their children to the dentist and 38% of parents say their children are nervous about dental appointments.

Furthermore, this childhood fear often evolves into adult anxiety with over half of adults reporting severe nervousness about dental appointments. This has direct consequences for dental health. Respondents reported enduring toothaches, tooth decay, tooth sensitivity and loss of a tooth or teeth as a result. Over 13% of people have resorted to self-treatment. One in five of those have gone so far as extracting their own teeth. 

To improve anxiety, respondents said they would be reassured by staff with knowledge of supporting patients with dental anxiety (34%). Also, calming music (25%) and a less clinical and more inviting environment (22%).

Just ask a question

To help tackle dental anxiety, Bupa Dental Care has launched a video series in partnership with mental health platform, Just Ask a Question (JAAQ). The Q&A style videos are designed to help people access clinical advice early. They are delivered by experts in a straightforward, non-jargon way to address common worries associated with visiting the dentist.

It will also continue the employee engagement programme, JAAQ at Work, to give its people access to over 80 mental health and wellbeing topics. These range from depression, addiction and stress to fertility, bereavement, suicide prevention and everything in between.

‘It is well-known that of all health appointments, many people dread most a visit to the dentist. This is exacerbated by dental anxiety being passed on through generations, which may dissuade people from getting regular and necessary care as they get older. We know that treating anxious patients can be more complex, as they may not always feel comfortable receiving routine care. Therefore, we need to reassure them that we’re in the profession because we care and want to help. Resources such as our videos with JAAQ offer new ways to reach patients and ease any worries before their appointment, which is a key part of our preventative health focus to help patients live healthier, happier lives.’
Anni Seaborne
Head of general dentistry at Bupa Dental Care

For more information, visit www.bupa.co.uk/business/jaaq-at-work.

This article is sponsored by Bupa Dental Care.

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