Acupuncture can help anxious dental patients

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Acupuncture has been found to significantly reduce dental anxiety, according to a recent study.

The study involved twenty patients, all of whom had severe dental anxiety and had avoided going to the dentist for a period of several years; the group was made up of sixteen women and four men. The research was carried out by a team based at Sheffield’s Weston Park Hospital.

During the trial, each patient was given just one session of acupuncture where the needles were placed in two specific points at the top of the head; each session lasted just five minutes. After the session was complete, each patient underwent dental treatment and answered a questionnaire that was designed to determine their anxiety levels.

The fact that the patients were able to even have the treatments was indicative of the success of the acupuncture; previously, these patients had avoided going to the dentist and some hadn’t seen a dentist in over 20 years. In addition, the results of the questionnaires showed that the patients’ levels of anxiety were significantly lower than before the acupuncture session; some patient’s anxiety levels were halved following the acupuncture treatment.

The research team believe that acupuncture can be a very effective, inexpensive and quick means of helping people with dental anxiety; although other methods, such as hypnosis, have also been proven to be effective, they are much more time consuming and can be costly. Dental anxiety affects a third of the population, with around one in 20 people affected by extreme dental anxiety. Often, patients with dental anxiety have poor oral health because they are too afraid to go to the dentist; now, acupuncture treatments can be used to provide a solution for these patients. The findings of the study have been published in the Acupuncture in Medicine journal. 

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