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Acupuncture Puts Nervous Dental Patients at Ease

Acupuncture Treatment Before Dental Work Calms Anxious Patients, Researchers Say
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

March 29, 2010 -- Acupuncture needles stuck into two strategic spots on the head may reduce anxiety levels of highly nervous dental patients, new research indicates.

The needles induce relaxation and reduce fear that all but paralyzes some people facing dental treatments, say researchers from England and Denmark.

In a study published in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine, acupuncture treatment was performed in 16 women and four men from eight dental practices. Each of the patients had been rated as moderately or extremely anxious based on a questionnaire scale called the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI).

The BAI scores of the individuals were assessed before and five minutes after acupuncture treatment involving two specific points on the top of the head.

Dentists trained in the use of acupuncture carried out the experiments, and average BAI scores fell to 11.5 from 26.5. The acupuncture treatments worked so well that all 20 people managed to have their dental procedures carried out.

The authors write that about 5% of patients in the U.S. and Europe have severe dental anxiety called odontiatophobia and 20%-30% report moderate anxiety. Several techniques had been used to help patients overcome their fear of dental treatments, such as relaxation therapy, biofeedback, and hypnosis. Those techniques may work, but they are time consuming and require psychotherapeutic skills.

The authors conclude that acupuncture “prior to dental treatment has a beneficial effect on the level of anxiety in patients with dental anxiety and may offer a simple and inexpensive method of treatment.”

However, they say the results need to be tested and validated in a larger trial.

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

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American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

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