Optimism and Humor help with dental phobia

Swedish scientists have found that humor and optimism can be used as a very effective tool by people who usually face stress while visiting a dentist.

Dental fear or phobia is a common condition that deprives many people from going to dentistry office for regular health care or receiving treatment. Reportedly, about 50 percent of adults have some levels of dental phobia while 5 percent severely fear to go to a dentist.

Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg have investigated the strategies that people with dental phobia use to cope with their problem.

According to their report published in the journal Acta Odontologica Scandinavica, people with dental phobia commonly use five different strategies to get over their fear of the dentist.

The practices include self-distraction (counting or singing to yourself, or playing mental games to keep the mind off the treatment), prayer (praying that the treatment will soon be over), distancing (thinking that the pain sensation feels like something else such as numbness), self-efficacy (telling yourself to be strong), and optimism (telling yourself that everything will be OK after the treatment).

Findings, however, showed that being optimist is the most effective strategy among all highly used techniques.

“The study has shown that patients who adopt an optimistic mindset cope with dental treatment significantly better and they visit the dentist more regularly than patients who spend their time in prayer, despair or catastrophizing,” said lead author Jenny Bernson.

Researchers also found that humor was an important factor in dealing with dental fear.

“Psychological barriers can be broken down by humor, both as a result of the patient and the dentist coming together more as equals, and as a result of humor reducing stress, increasing well-being and creating a pleasant atmosphere,” Bernson suggested.

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