Acupuncture needles placed into two specific spots on the head may reduce anxiety levels of highly nervous dental patients, according to a study published in Acupuncture in Medicine.


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


The acupuncture treatment was performed in sixteen 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).


Dentists trained in the use of acupuncture carried out the experiments, and average anxiety (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.


According to the authors, approximately 5% of patients in the U.S. and Europe have severe dental anxiety and 20%-30% report moderate anxiety.   Numerous  techniques had been used to help patients overcome their fear of dental treatments, including hypnosis,  relaxation therapy, biofeedback, and hypnosis. Those techniques may work, but they are time consuming and require psychotherapeutic skills.


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,” according to the authors.


They also recommend additional testing and validation with a larger clinical trial.


Source:  Acupuncture in Medicine