Dental Behavioural Management

Many people would not usually associate dentistry with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), but there are in fact many dental-related problems that are maintained by a psychological aspect. For example, if you clench or grind your teeth (bruxism), research has shown that this can be maintained by stress, posture and habit.

At one80 Dental, we meet many patients who suffer with bruxism and other problems such as dental anxieties or phobias, and in many cases they have contributed to the destruction of their natural teeth as well as cause severe facial or jaw pain. We wanted to find a way to offer our patients an enduring solution to these particular problems, which would complement the advanced dental techniques provided by our specialist team.

Through the use of CBT, our therapists can support our patients to understand the root cause of a range of dental problems by working with them to discover how they may have initially developed, been subsequently maintained and importantly how they can control the often destructive and often physically painful cycle. .

Find out more below, about the types of problems we can help with:

Dental Phobia & Dental Anxiety – Dental anxiety or phobia is simply a fear of the dentists or related dental procedures, arising from a previously bad experience or learnt behaviour from another person, although sometimes it is not always that easy to pin down. It is estimated that a third of us have dental anxiety and, in its severest form, the phobia affects 11% of the population.

Individuals with dental phobia and dental anxiety are at an increased risk of gum disease or tooth loss, mainly because they, understandably, avoid visiting the dentist. Psychological interventions does help individuals overcome their fears and results in sufferers finally seeking the dental help and advice they need.

Bruxism – is the grinding and/or clenching of teeth, this action can occur either during the day or at night and often the sufferer is unaware that they are doing it. From a dental perspective the effects can be catastrophic with individuals frequently grinding their teeth down and/or breaking them. Behavioural therapy and psycho-education is demonstrating remarkable results, in many cases helping the sufferer to stop bruxing altogether

Atypical Facial Pain – is a syndrome that encompasses a wide group of facial pain problems. It is typically characterised by a burning, aching or cramping sensation, occurring on one side of the face, often in the region of the trigeminal nerve and can extend into the upper neck or back of the scalp. Management of these problems may require a combination of psychological, physical and medical/dental interventions.

Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD or TMJ)
is a condition affecting the movement of the jaw. Symptoms include:-

  • Pain around the jaw, ear and temple
  • Clicking, popping or grinding noises when moving the jaw
  • A headache around the temples
  • Difficulty opening the mouth fully
  • The jaw locking when opening the mouth

The pain may be worse when chewing, when a person feels stressed and it can also stop them from getting a good night’s sleep. TMD/TMJ can be managed utilising a combination of physical and behavioural approaches.

Gag Reflex – A gag reflex is a normal body reaction and is simply a contraction at the back of the throat which can be triggered by a range of things. Some individuals have a particularly strong gag reflex, usually due to a previous bad experience(s), to the extent where they struggle with dental treatment because they cannot put certain objects in their mouth.

CBT has demonstrated a good outcome in the treatment of an overactive gag reflex, enabling patients to move ahead with their dental treatment.

Burning Mouth Syndrome – This is a little-known condition where the mouth and/or throat feel as though they are burning even though there are no lesions or blisters to be found in the mouth, throat or any part of the oral mucosa. It affects mainly women and the onset is usually around the peri-menopausal period, with the prevalence ranging from 0.7%-7% in the general population and up to 12%-18% for post-menopausal women. The duration of the pain can last from weeks to years and in some unfortunate cases, the pain never dissipates.

There is currently no specific pharmacological treatment for burning mouth syndrome, although a mixture of antidepressants and cognitive behavioural therapy have proved to be beneficial in many cases.

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