A specialist dental practice in Sheffield has become one of the first in the country to offer patients behavioural therapy to help them get to the root cause of a range of dental problems and phobias.
The one80 Dental centre for advanced dentistry is working with leading behavioural psychotherapist John Davies. He has developed a unique model using cognitive behaviour treatment (CBT) techniques to treat conditions such as bruxism - excessive teeth grinding or jaw clenching - and unexplained facial pain.
Nigel Rosenbaum, Practice Principal at one80 Dental, said: 'We see many patients who suffer with facial or jaw pain, headaches and the effects of clenching and grinding their teeth. These problems are often barriers preventing patients benefitting from the dental care we can provide.
'Research has shown that these symptoms can be manifestations of everyday stress, posture and habit and effective CBT can support sufferers to control these often destructive cycles, and ultimately access the dental care that they need.
'The new service aims to support patients by working with them to understand and overcome the causes of often really debilitating problems, as well as supporting them with dental anxieties or phobias.'
John Davies and his colleague Victoria Moorhead are leading the newly created Dental Behaviour Management Service at one80 Dental. John has worked for 25 years as a CBT psychotherapist in Sheffield and has a national reputation and specialist interest in the use of behavioural interventions in dental health.
He said: 'Whilst it may not seem initially obvious, there are many dental-related problems that are maintained by a psychological aspect. Research and testimonials show that psychotherapy type interventions can help sufferers and in many cases are highly beneficial in reducing anxiety, pain and improving overall outcomes.
'I have been developing a model for treatment that is non-invasive but combines psychological and physical approaches which works particularly well for sleep bruxism.
'I look at the relationship between what you do and how you respond. A lot of these habit disorders like teeth clenching and grinding are driven by stress and if you don't understand and remove it, or change your responses, then the problem will not go away.'
The fear or inability to accept routine dental care affects approximately one-third of the adult population in the UK. It has been estimated that as many as 10% are phobic of dentistry and either avoid it altogether or are very distressed if they do attend a dentist.
The one80 Dental centre on Baslow Road, Totley, is receiving interest from dental practices across the region in the new service and Nigel Rosenbaum added: 'Many patients suffer major anxiety and stress before and during any dental visits.
'Our team take great care to put patients at their ease, no matter how nervous they may be, with the option of sedation available where appropriate, but we understand that this does not always help and may not address the underlying cause.
'By offering the dental behavioural management service as an additional option, we can offer effective, complementary treatment to help anxious patients accept routine dental care more frequently and with less or no distress.'