Could Acupuncture Be The Solution For Dental Anxiety?

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Around 20 per cent of Americans suffer from anxiety in the dental chair, but Italian researchers may have come up with a solution for those who have a sensitive gag reflex; researchers from the University of Palermo, Sicily, believe that acupuncture could benefit patients who suffer from anxiety related to having an overly sensitive gag reflex.

Researchers, Antonella Fregapane and Giuseppa Bilello, from the University of Palermo, believe that people who cannot control their gag reflex put their oral health at risk by avoiding going to the dentist and their study suggests that acupuncture may help.

In a small study, researchers used a group of 20 people who had a history of gagging in the dental chair; patients were asked to sit in the chair to have upper and lower tooth impressions taken before and after acupuncture treatment. The findings of the study showed that the first round of impressions produced an average gag score of 7 on a scale of 1-10 (with 1 the lowest score and 10 the highest gag score), while the second round, which was conducted after acupuncture therapy, produced an average score of just 1.

Researchers believe that the study shows that acupuncture can be an effective therapy for patients with a sensitive gag reflex, although they noted that it would be interesting to repeat the study with a group of patients who did not undergo acupuncture treatment.

Dr Palle Rosted, consultant acupuncturist at Weston Park Hospital in Sheffield, believes that the study is very interesting and suggested that it would be a good idea to carry out a larger study.

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