Efficacy of a trauma-focused treatment approach for dental phobia: a randomized clinical trial

S. Doering, M.C. Ohlmeier, A. de Jongh, A. Hofmann, V. Bisping

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


It has been hypothesized that treatment specifically focused on resolving memories of negative dental events might be efficacious for the alleviation of anxiety in patients with dental phobia. Thirty-one medication-free patients who met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) criteria of dental phobia were randomly assigned to either Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) or a waitlist control condition. Dental anxiety was assessed using the Dental Anxiety Questionnaire (DAS), the Dental Fear Survey (DFS), a behavior test, and dental attendance at 1-yr of follow up. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing was associated with significant reductions of dental anxiety and avoidance behavior as well as in symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The effect sizes for the primary outcome measures were d = 2.52 (DAS) and d = 1.87 (DFS). These effects were still significant 3 months (d = 3.28 and d = 2.28, respectively) and 12 months (d = 3.75 and d = 1.79, respectively) after treatment. After 1 yr, 83.3% of the patients were in regular dental treatment (d = 3.20). The findings suggest that therapy aimed at processing memories of past dental events can be helpful for patients with dental phobia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)584-593
JournalEuropean Journal of Oral Sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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