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Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Date:3/29/2010

For fearful patients, ancient therapy could help, study suggests

MONDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- Fear of the dentist keeps many people from getting the dental care they need, but new research suggests that an ancient Chinese treatment -- acupuncture -- may provide quick relief.

One in 20 people suffer from odontophobia -- severe anxiety about dentistry -- and a third of all people say they have moderate anxiety when seeing the dentist, the researchers said.

"We can offer patients a safe, fast and cheap treatment for their odontophobia," said lead researcher Dr. Palle Rosted, from the department of oncology at Weston Park Hospital in Sheffield, England.

Other available treatments, such as distraction, relaxation techniques, tranquilizers and sedation, can be time-consuming or have side effects, Rosted said. "Moreover, in some patients, the more traditional treatments are not sufficient. By offering acupuncture, the dentist has an extra tool in his bag," he said.

The report is published in the March 29 issue of Acupuncture in Medicine.

For the study, Rosted's group tested acupuncture on 20 patients who had suffered from dental phobia for two to 30 years. Their average age was 40, and their anxiety was considered moderate to severe.

Their anxiety was checked before and after five minutes of acupuncture and rated, using the Back Anxiety Inventory (BAI) questionnaire. The acupuncture treatment, which involves inserting thin needles into specific body points, targeted two points on the top of the head.

The researchers found the average BAI score of 26.5 dropped to 11.5 after the acupuncture session. And all the patients were able to have their dental treatment.

Before trying acupuncture, only six patients could withstand any treatment at all, and even at that, just a partial visit that required a great deal of effort by both dentist and patient, Rosted note
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