Interesting article in the News section of the current issue of the British Dental Journal (published online: 9 March 2010):
Scientists in Sweden have discovered that 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 dental staff.
In two unique studies, scientists from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg investigated the strategies people with dental fear use to cope with visiting the dentist and receiving dental treatment.1
In one study, Jenny Bernson and colleagues asked people suffering from dental fear to complete a questionnaire and the results revealed five principal strategies used to overcome dental fear: self-efficacy, self-distraction, distancing, prayer and optimism.
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.
‘Psychological barriers can be broken down by humour, both as a result of the patient and the dentist coming together more as equals, and as a result of humour reducing stress, increasing well-being and creating a pleasant atmosphere,’ said Dr Bernson.
The strategies identified by the two studies will form the basis of a questionnaire that may be possible to use in the future when treating patients suffering from dental fear.
The original research can be found here: Bernson J M, Elfström M L, Hakeberg M. Adaptive coping strategies among adults with dental fear. Further development of a new version of the Dental Coping Strategy Questionnaire. Acta Odontol Scand 2011; Nov 30