We all know that dental anxiety is something that affects a large portion of the population. We also know that dealing with anxious patients can be difficult, and to give them peace of mind, options such as sedation are often enforced so that treatment can be completed.
However – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – finding the root of the fear is what’s really necessary in order to combat dental anxiety effectively. That’s why, when I was recently browsing through the news, an article on acupuncture in relation to its effects on those suffering from dental anxiety caught my eye.
Acupuncture may have a bit of a reputation as being an “alternative” medicine, and this has led to people believing that the treatment is ineffective. Often sneered at as merely the pastime of people who eschew proper medicine, it’s understandable to see how a procedure that bases its principles on qi and energy flows may appear to be nothing short of fantastical nonsense. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case.
Acupuncture as a practice dates back millennia, and ongoing studies into the procedure have revealed that it can have a significant beneficial effect when used in cases of people with depression, lower back pain and other ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome. Now, this list of ailments that can be expanded as the range of studies detailed in the article showed that acupuncture effectively reduced levels of anxiety in those who had dental phobias.[i] No conclusions could be drawn from research between those that received the treatment as a placebo and those who had it as an intervention, but overall the studies did show a markedly positive reaction.
Although still early days, these findings make it clear that acupuncture may indeed have a relevant place in dentistry. More research needs to be done, but any treatment that can help to lower levels of dental anxiety can be nothing but a good thing. It’s important that we as professionals keep up to date with research like this, as in the future who knows whether we will all have the option to introduce acupuncture into our daily working lives.
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[i] Tooth Wise. Researchers Have Found Evidence that Acupuncture Could Help People Who Experience Dental Anxiety. Link: http://www.news.dental/acupuncture-possible-treatment-dental-anxiety/ [Last accessed July 18].