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Can Acupuncture Lessen Dental Anxiety?

With as many as 20% of the US population suffering from dental anxiety, it's always wonderful to hear about new studies conerning treatments that may aleviate this issue.

Interestingly, Acupunture is the latest treatment for dental anxiety that's being studied.

Recently, a team of Italian researchers recruited 20 people with a history of a severe gag reflex for a small study. Dental impressions (a known cause of gag reflex at the dentist's office) were made without acupuncture treatment, and the participants then rated the intensity of their gag reflex. They self reported a gag reflex score of 7 on a 0-10 scale.

For the second round of research, dental impressions were again taken, this time with acupuncture needles applied for 30 seconds beforehand. On average, the patients' gag reflex score dropped to an astonishing rating of just 1.

The study results are important, as fear of gagging is a large part of dental anxiety for many, and can keep patients from seeking adequate dental care. If acupuncture can truly ease the dental anxiety of those affected, this could potentially be a big step forward.

The researchers were quick to state that the findings came from a small sample, and should not be considered definitive at this time. But for those who need help with dental anxiety, this is still good news, indeed.

--Dr. Shannon Norman-Kotre, Ann Arbor Dentist


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