The role played by behavioural and social sciences in the daily exercise of dentistry has become an integral part of dentistry training. However, but it is often seen to be detached from the reality of clinical practices. Most dentists ask: what is sociology? Why should I know psychology? Do I need psychology and sociology to be effective in my work? This post answers these critical questions and demonstrates how the behavioural and social sciences can improve dentistry and related health care services in this century.
Oral Health Related Behaviour
Many researchers have tried to explore the part psychological theory plays in dental behaviours and the creation of behavioural change interventions that can improve oral health. Oral health greatly relies on the individual engaging in basic oral hygiene behaviours such as interdental cleaning and tooth brushing. There is great evidence that suggests that theory-based interventions are better than interventions that are not based on the theory.
Social determinants of oral health
We are all aware that the behaviour of a person is socially determined. Researchers have shown that there is growing evidence that how people live, work, learn, and work has an enormous impact on oral health. Social determinants of health include things like eating healthy food, safe housing, and quality of education. These factors can shape behaviours, exposures, and access to better health care.
The social impact of oral health
Oral health has more significant benefits than simple improvements in function. Most oral diseases are associated with social gradients; dental caries, oral cancer, periodontal disease, and tooth loss. The current knowledge on these interconnections has led to the development of new approaches for oral health. These approaches recognise that social behaviours contribute to oral health. These oral health conditions can be controlled by initiatives that prioritise the development of the social determinants of health for the improvement of healthy social environments.
Dental Fear and Anxiety
Finally, there have been interests from researchers in the advancement of psychological methodologies in managing dental anxiety and fear and anxiety. This includes disruptive behaviour among children and dental phobia in adults. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy used in the control of anxiety exhibits concrete evidence base precisely for dental fear. Though, it has been slow to be embraced by dental practice. Currently, many research teams in the UK have developed support and training manuals to enhance the progress and adoption of such services which are being disseminated nationally and internationally.