Acupuncture could treat dental anxiety

A team from the UK have found evidence that acupuncture could help people who experience dental anxiety.

In a review of six trials conducted to investigate the effects of acupuncture on patients with dental anxiety, the team from the University of York used a points scale to measure anxiety in the 800 patients involved.

Their analysis—which is published in the European Journal of Integrative Medicinefound that anxiety reduced by eight points when dental patients were given acupuncture as a treatment. This level of reduction is considered to be clinically relevant, suggesting that acupuncture could be a possibility for tackling dental anxiety.

Dental anxiety affects up to an estimated 30 per cent of the adult population in countries worldwide. Patients can experience nausea, difficulty breathing and dizziness at the thought of going to the dentist, during an examination, and following treatment.

Previous clinical trials have involved acupuncture for treatment on a range of conditions, including lower back pain, depression, and irritable bowel syndrome. There is, however, limited research detailing its impact on specific cases of anxiety.

“There is increasing scientific interest in the effectiveness of acupuncture either as a standalone treatment or as an accompanying treatment to more traditional medications,” study author Professor Hugh MacPherson said.

“We have recently shown, for example, that acupuncture treatment can boost the effectiveness of standard medical care in chronic pain and depression.

“Chronic pain is often a symptom of a long-term condition, so to further our understanding of the various uses of acupuncture we wanted to see what it could achieve for conditions that occur suddenly, rapidly and as a reaction to particular experiences.”

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