Dental anxiety in young people – East London trial of Your Teeth, You are in Control

Project: Evaluation of Self-Help Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Children’s Dental Anxiety in General Dental Practice.

Target group: A convenience sample of children was given the resources by their dental practitioner. Eighty-four children were involved, with a mean age of 10.9 years; 48 were female and 59. At baseline the mean CEDAM score was 20.3.

Settings:  General dental practice in a deprived area of East London, England. General dental practitioners in participating clinics completed online training on how to use the CBT resources ( and then started using the resources with children aged 8-16 years who had self-reported dental anxiety.

Intervention:  ‘Your Teeth, You Are in Control’ ( – a guided CBT based self-help resource for dental anxiety. The paper based resources given to children and parents included information on the dental team and basic procedures; suggestions for coping tools that children can use such as a distraction (mind games, listening to their own music, squeezing a stress ball) and relaxation techniques; and interactive activities for the dentist and patient to complete together.

Support offered: The dental practitioners supported the use of the resources at each appointment with the young people, discussing coping strategies and reminding patients of the key content in ‘Your Teeth, You Are in Control’. They also signed a “stop signal agreement” with patients.

Outcomes: After completing treatment the mean CEDAM score was 16.4 (compared to 20.4 at BL), showing a significant reduction in dental anxiety. The service evaluation indicates a reduction in child dental anxiety following the use of ‘Your Teeth, You Are in Control’ in general practice.

What else?  Items showing most improvement following the intervention were: 1. Worry over the dentist telling them they need to have something done; 2. Worry about the dental treatment being painful; and 3. Control over what will happen in the appointment.

Papers: Bux, S., Porritt, J., & Marshman, Z. (2019). Evaluation of Self-Help Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Children’s Dental Anxiety in General Dental Practice. Dentistry journal, 7(2), 36.


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