According to studies conducted in connection with a doctoral thesis at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, severe dental anxiety (DA) is linked to major health problems. The research (which included more than 3,500 subjects) also found that adults who suffer from DA are also unhappy with their appearance and suggests that the discontent may be related to poor oral health, anxiety and depression.
One of the problems with DA is that it is a vicious cycle. Someone with DA avoids the dentist and as a result likely has poor oral health. That poor oral health may cause the person embarrassment and further withdrawal. According to Viktor Carlsson at Sahlgrenska Academy, “People with severe DA are often trapped in a vicious cycle that begins with avoidance of dental care … The next stage is poorer oral health, often followed by a sense of shame and withdrawal from social intercourse.”
Another remarkable finding from the study found that DA subjects had a higher occurrence of ADHD. Dr. Carlsson reported, “Patients who reported that they suffered from ADHD and who were identified with a screening instrument were among those with the most severe DA and very low self-rated oral health.”
Based on the research, it seems cognitive behavioral therapy would be an effective treatment of severe DA. Although, Dr. Carlsson cautions that further studies are needed before anyone can be certain.