Study found this type of treatment helped many overcome phobias about dental visits.

Many people are familiar with the fear that can precede a visit to the dentist, but new research shows that talk therapy can help when that anxiety becomes a crippling phobia.

In the study, British investigators tried an approach called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a short-term treatment typically involving six to 10 sessions.

“CBT works by providing individuals with skills to address their fear,” said lead researcher Tim Newton, a professor of psychology at King’s College London Dental Institute.

After the sessions, which focused on replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, the patients took away a set of skills to help tackle their anxiety, Newton explained.

“We discuss with them when we discharge them the fact that their anxiety [about dental visits] will come back, but that they know what to do — don’t avoid, take gradual steps and challenge those thoughts,” he said.

Newton and his colleagues evaluated 130 men and women, average age 40, who all participated in therapy sessions led by a psychologist. About three-quarters were so fearful they had full-fledged dental phobia; the others had anxiety about some aspect of dentistry. Fear of injections and the drill were the most common worries mentioned.

Read more about it on Everyday Health here: