Acupuncture Calms Highly Anxious Dental Patients

There should be an image here!Acupuncture can calm highly anxious dental patients and ensure that they can be given the treatment they need, suggests a small study published in Acupuncture in Medicine.

A visit to the dentist provokes extreme fear and anxiety in an estimated one in 20 people, and can put them off going altogether, a condition termed odontophobia. And up to a third of patients report moderate anxiety at the prospect of dental treatment, studies show.

The authors base their findings on 16 women and four men from eight dental practice lists.

Each of the patients was moderately or extremely anxious about going to the dentist for treatment, as assessed by a validated questionnaire — the Back Anxiety Inventory (BAI).

All were in their 40s and had been trying to deal with this problem for between two and 30 years.

The BAI score was assessed before and after five minutes of acupuncture treatment, targeting two specific acupuncture points (GV20 and EX6) on the top of the head.

The acupuncture was carried out by the dentists themselves, all of whom are members of the British Dental Acupuncture Society.

The average BAI score of 26.5 fell to 11.5, and all 20 patients were able to undergo their planned treatment, whereas before this had only been possible in six — and then only partially and after a great deal of effort on the part of both dentist and patient.

The authors point out that several attempts have been made to conquer this type of anxiety, including sedatives, relaxation techniques, behavioural therapies, biofeedback and hypnosis. The research indicates that these do help, but they are time consuming and require considerable levels of psychotherapeutic skills, if applied properly, say the authors.

They caution that further larger studies are needed to confirm the value of acupuncture in these sorts of cases, but suggest that acupuncture “may offer a simple and inexpensive method of treatment.”

Emma Dickinson @ British Medical Journal

[Photo above by Deborah Leigh / CC BY-ND 2.0]

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  • Alex

    Other research has show that acupuncture releases endorphins into the system. With that happening it is no wonder that anxious patients can be calmed.

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    It is originally used in China as anesthetic, acupuncture can help people relax, thus the anxiety felt by most people visiting the dentist may be eased by acupuncture treatments, which is the very reason why most dentist nowadays have embraced acupuncture to help their patients relax and be given their needed dental medication. Accupuncture In Ft Lauderdale Fl

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