Quick Study

Quick Study: Acupuncture may lessen fear of dental work

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

PHOBIA

Acupuncture may lessen fear of dentist

THE QUESTION When fear and apprehension keep someone from going to the dentist, might acupuncture help relieve the anxiety?

THIS STUDY involved 20 adults who had struggled with moderate to severe dental anxiety for an average of 10 years. Most had cancelled earlier appointments; a few had gotten some treatment under general anesthesia or after taking sedatives. When they arrived for a scheduled appointment for routine dental work, such as a cleaning, they first were given a five-minute acupuncture treatment, at two points on the head that have been shown to evoke relaxation. Their anxiety was measured before the acupuncture, which they did not know would be available, and after their dental treatment. On average, their scores on a standardized anxiety scale dropped from 28 (severe) to 11.5 (mild). Two people reported sleepiness. All of them completed their dental exam.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? People who avoid getting dental care because of anxiety, sometimes called odontophobia for severe cases. Relaxation techniques, behavioral therapy, biofeedback, hypnosis and sedatives help some but not all who have these fears.

CAVEATS The study included a small number of participants. Acupuncture was administered by dentists who had been trained in the technique.

FIND THIS STUDY March issue of Acupuncture in Medicine.

LEARN MORE ABOUT dental anxiety at http://www.simplestepsdental.com. Learn about acupuncture at http://www.nccam.nih.gov.

-- Linda Searing

The research described in Quick Study comes from credible, peer-reviewed journals. Nonetheless, conclusive evidence about a treatment's effectiveness is rarely found in a single study. Anyone considering changing or beginning treatment of any kind should consult with a physician.


© 2010 The Washington Post Company

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