If you are one in 20 people suffering from odontophobia, or severe anxiety about dentistry, acupuncture is an alternative to help you deal with that anxiety, according to a report published in the March 29 issue of Acupuncture in Medicine.
Dr. Palle Rosted, a scientist working at the Department of Oncology at Weston Park Hospital in Sheffield, England says that acupuncture can "offer patients a safe, fast and cheap treatment for their odontophobia”. According to him, the other available alternatives—including distraction, relaxation techniques, tranquilizers and sedation—are either, time consuming or have side effects. And in some patients the more traditional treatments alone are insufficient. Acupuncture adds an extra tool into the dentist's bag, making the study results good news for dentists as well as their patients.
Dr. Rosted, the lead researcher for the study which included 20 patients with moderate to severe anxiety, says that 70 percent of patients had an effect of the treatment. He further states that, "From a practical point of view, and that is the important thing, we demonstrated that it was possible to carry out the planned dental treatment in all patients.”
Acupuncture has the advantages of being safe, fast and cheap, compared to alternatives. The study showed that the dentist could commence the dental treatment five minutes after the insertion of the five needles. Acupuncture works by helping release endorphins, which act not only as painkillers, but as sedatives, according to Dr. Marshall H. Sager, a past president of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture and a practicing acupuncturist himself. The opiate-like hormones released by the body contribute to natural feelings of well-being and help modulate anxiety. Dr. Sager says that in his experience, when he administers acupuncture to patients before surgery he is able to decrease their preoperative stress levels, causing them feel more relaxed and hence needing less anesthesia during surgery.
If you feel apprehensive using acupuncture, an ancient Chinese treatment, you may be happy to note that the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, of the National Institutes of Health, provides a lot of information on acupuncture and its uses. Acupuncture is considered an effective complement to standard care in the treatment of a variety of conditions including knee osteoarthritis, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD), chronic low back pain and fibromyalgia.