Acupuncture Treats Anxiety at the Dentist

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
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Acupuncture might be a new treatment option for anxiety at the dentist, suggests findings from a small study. For one in twenty individuals who experience extreme anxiety sitting in the dentist chair, acupuncture, performed by the dentist’s themselves, was found to reduce anxiety, assessed by the Back Anxiety Inventory (BAI) questionnaire.

The study included 16 men and 4 women who reported being moderately or extremely anxious from treatment at the dentist. Using the BAI questionnaire, researchers found a reduction in anxiety scores that fell from an average of BAI score of 26.5 fell to 11.5. All twenty patients were able to have their dental treatment following acupuncture treatment.

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Anxiety medications, counseling, hypnosis, biofeedback and behavioral therapy to ease anxiety from dental treatment are all useful, but can be time consuming, unlike acupuncture.

Targeting two specific acupuncture points (GV20 and EX6), on the top of the head, was found to require considerably less effort and was effective for easing anxiety at the dentist office within five minutes after treatment.

The study participants had been dealing with anxiety associated with treatments at the dentist between two and 30 years. The authors conclude that acupuncture "may offer a simple and inexpensive method of treatment” for anxiety from dental treatment.

BMJ-British Medical Journal

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Comments

Acupuncture could actually prove to be a pretty good solution to all the odontophobia that we dentists come across in our dental practices. I already try to do a number of different things to relax my patients like creating a casual atmosphere and making sure they comprehend why and what dental work needs to be done with open communication and an understandable treatment plan provided by our dental practice software. These things make a difference, but acupuncture might be more effective.
Thank you Sam! Let us know if you initiate and if so, how it goes.