"Cognitive behavioural therapy for dental phobia"

About: Ealing IAPT

(as the patient),

My therapist was extremely professional. She went above and beyond what I expected from the service.

She even contacted me via email and called me on the phone, when I finally Managed to get myself to a dentist, to offer additional support and reminders of the techniques we discussed. This extra assistance was what made it possible for me to overcome my phobia.

The most important thing for me was that she did not discharge me until the problem was resolved. This persistence and dedication gave me the feeling that I had somone real behind me that actually cared about whether I succeeded. And when I finally managed to get the dental work done, the feeling of achievement and celebration was shared by both of us.

After a 20 year battle with dental phobia, my life has been changed in that I can now smile in public and no longer suffer the worry and debilitating anxiety about my teeth and the work needed to repair them.

Without the exceptional care and attention I received I have no doubt that I would have failed to resolve my problem on my own.

I hope she continues to provide other people the support she gave me and I wish her the best of luck as her career grows.


Response from Josef Landsberg, Clinical Lead IAPT, West London Mental Health NHS Trust

Dear “Artists Teeth”

One of the biggest problems for dental phobics in the past was that their phobia was dismissed as fear. People just thought that everybody was scared of the dentist and nobody liked dental appointments. In fact, the practices themselves were never really designed to be welcoming or to make patients feel comfortable. It was just something we all had to do.

Therefore, many people who suffer from dental phobia often do not realise themselves that their condition is recognised and capable of treatment. Instead, they develop their own counterproductive coping strategies which normally involve avoiding dental work and hoping that their teeth can look after themselves. This leads to inevitable problems as you described.

We are very pleased to learn that after a 20 year battle your life has now changed with the help of your IAPT worker and her personal touch to your treatment. I can only imagine how hard this must have been for you and therefore it truly deserves a celebration.

As a service we are continuously trying to engage with dental practices so that they can tell people that help is available. Stories like yours really help us to get the message across.

Thank you for spending the time to write about us on Care Opinion. I will make sure that the team are aware of your feedback.

Yours sincerely, Josef Landsberg

  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful

Update posted by Artists teeth (the patient)

Yes it's true. It actually took a lot of research on my part, over two years to actually find that your help was available.

I found the Ealing IAPT through my GP but only after I had persistantly visited different doctors, asking for help. It was only that I told him it was affecting my mental health and family relationships that I was taken seriously.

Because I am an articulate and healthy looking man ( I think) I think many people didn't believe that I have the problems I describe. Even some dentists disregarded my plight.

I was even about to set up a group on Facebook to gather people with dental phobia together in the hope that there would be strength in numbers.

One issue that worries me is that if an educated and self motivated person like me, struggles to find help, what happens to people who aren't so fortunate!!!

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