Here at FEMDA, we think it’s fantastic news that researchers at Temple University have been awarded $2.6 million to undertake a clinical study to test their online interventions to help those people suffering with dental anxiety (https://bit.ly/2CwZZiC).
Researchers from both the dentist school and the psychology department have teamed up to develop a system that shows people three videos related to their specific fear. The videos offer a graded exposure experience with each video showing images closer to the patient's mouth and increasing in anxiety eliciting intensity. "Prior to our work, psychology and dentistry didn't have much of a history together," said Professor of Psychology, Richard Heimberg. Now “it's possible to put a psychologist's tool in the hands of dental assistants”.
Well, FEMDA is putting psychologists tools in the hands of patients. Our ConfiDents patient app has been designed to give patients the psychological help they need to change their anxious thoughts into coping thoughts.The guiding theme built into the app is patient control - over the pace, format and content of all the materials. The App provides them with what they need to start to face their fears - working at their own pace. For example, for a person who is afraid of injections, the App first trains them in applied tension to help them prevent themselves fainting, and it gives the user the choice whether they want to access text, images or videos about this topic. The user is in control of the size and focus of the image, and can pause, rewind, and forward wind each video - the user is in control.
Many treatments for anxiety suggest that patients need to face their worst fears - but this often leads to disengagement. In contrast, this App puts the control with the patient, who can go as slow or as fast as they want through the programme, doing it when is convenient for them.
The app also guides the user though the general skills they might need to tackle their anxiety - such as mindful awareness, reflecting on goals, and expressive writing. The App tracks the users own, idiosyncratic fears, and provides information and exercises targeted to their concerns.
Not only does the app help the patient address their anxiety but it feeds back data to the dentist so they are aware of the level of the patients anxiety and the specific triggers causing it.
Members of FEMDA can offer the Confidents App to their patients for free and help improve their patients oral health and the health of their practice finances.