A dental phobia treatment within the Swedish National Health Insurance

Swed Dent J. 2012;36(2):71-8.


Severe dental fear/phobia (DF) is a problem for both dental care providers and for patients who often suffer from impaired oral health and from social and emotional distress.The aim of this paper was to present the Swedish model for DF treatment within the National Health Insurance System, and to describe the dental phobia treatment and its outcome at The Dental Fear Research and Treatment Clinic (DFRTC) in Gothenburg. A literature review was made of relevant policy documents on dental phobia treatment from the National Health Insurance System and for Västra Götaland region on published outcome studies from DFRTC. The treatment manual of DFRTC was also used. In Sweden, adult patients with severe DF are able to undergo behavioral treatment within the National Health Insurance System if the patient and caregivers fulfil defined criteria that must be approved for each individual case. At DFRTC dental phobia behavioral treatment is given by psychologists and dentists in an integrated model. The goal is to refer patients for general dental care outside the DFRTC after completing treatment. The DF treatment at DFRTC has shown positive effects on dental fear, attendance and acceptance of dental treatment for 80% of patients. Follow-up after 2 and 10 years confirmed these results and showed improved oral health. In addition, positive psychosomatic and psychosocial side-effects were reported, and benefits also for society were evident in terms of reduced sick-leave. In conlusion, in Sweden a model has been developed within the National Health Insurance System helping individuals with DF. Behavioral treatment conducted at DFRTC has proven successful in helping patients cope with dental care, leading to regular attendance and better oral health.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated
  • Dental Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Dental Anxiety / prevention & control
  • Dental Anxiety / therapy*
  • Dental Care / psychology
  • Dental Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • National Health Programs*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Patient Care Team
  • Relaxation Therapy
  • Sick Leave / statistics & numerical data
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • Sweden
  • Treatment Outcome