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      Psychological Factors in Dental Patient Care: Odontophobia



      dental anxiety, dentistry, psychological, behavior and behavior mechanisms, anxiety, hypnosis, patient care management

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          Dentistry and oral health are at the heart of the systemic health of humans. Often this branch of medicine is underestimated either due to socioeconomic reasons or due to fear. In fact, in dentistry, there is often a widespread condition of odontophobia among patients. A clinician’s knowledge of this condition, and an accompanying understanding of how to successfully manage it, is surely one of the first steps to gaining a patient’s trust and maintaining his or her patronage. Being able to manage a dental phobic patient in the best way is the key to successful therapy. Psychological techniques often have to work alongside dentistry in managing these patients. A future perspective concerns precisely the implementation of non-invasive practices such as hypnosis in the management of the latter.

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          Most cited references 27

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          Development of a Dental Anxiety Scale

           N Corah (1969)
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            Structure of a human synaptic GABA-A receptor

            Fast inhibitory neurotransmission in the brain is principally mediated by the neurotransmitter γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and its synaptic target, the GABA-A receptor. Dysfunction of this receptor results in neurological disorders and mental illnesses including epilepsy, anxiety and insomnia. The GABA-A receptor is also a prolific target for therapeutic, illicit, and recreational drugs, including benzodiazepines, barbiturates, anesthetics and ethanol. We present high resolution cryo-electron microscopy structures of the human α1β2γ2 GABA-A receptor, the predominant isoform in the adult brain. The receptor is bound to GABA and the benzodiazepine site antagonist flumazenil, the first-line clinical treatment for benzodiazepine overdose. The receptor architecture reveals unique heteromeric interactions for this important class of inhibitory neurotransmitter receptors. This work provides a template for understanding receptor modulation by GABA and benzodiazepines, and will assist rational approaches to therapeutic targeting of this receptor for neurological disorders and mental illness.
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              Management of fear and anxiety in the dental clinic: a review.

               J Armfield,  L Heaton (2013)
              People who are highly anxious about undergoing dental treatment comprise approximately one in seven of the population and require careful and considerate management by dental practitioners. This paper presents a review of a number of non-pharmacological (behavioural and cognitive) techniques that can be used in the dental clinic or surgery in order to assist anxious individuals obtain needed dental care. Practical advice for managing anxious patients is provided and the evidence base for the various approaches is examined and summarized. The importance of firstly identifying dental fear and then understanding its aetiology, nature and associated components is stressed. Anxiety management techniques range from good communication and establishing rapport to the use of systematic desensitization and hypnosis. Some techniques require specialist training but many others could usefully be adopted for all dental patients, regardless of their known level of dental anxiety. It is concluded that successfully managing dentally fearful individuals is achievable for clinicians but requires a greater level of understanding, good communication and a phased treatment approach. There is an acceptable evidence base for several non-pharmacological anxiety management practices to help augment dental practitioners providing care to anxious or fearful children and adults.

                Author and article information

                Medicina (Kaunas)
                08 October 2019
                October 2019
                : 55
                : 10
                Department of Biomedical and Dental Sciences, Morphological and Functional Images, University of Messina, 98100 Messina, Italy; rsdestefano@
                © 2019 by the author.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (



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