Acupuncture possible treatment for dental anxiety

May 1, 2018, University of York
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Researchers have found evidence that acupuncture could help people who experience dental anxiety.

Dental affects up to an estimated 30% of the adult population in countries world-wide. Patients can experience nausea, difficulty breathing and dizziness at the thought of going to the dentist, during an examination, and following .

Reasons behind can be various, such as fear of pain, needles or anaesthetic side effects, as well as embarrassment or feeling a loss of control.

In a review of six with 800 , researchers used a points scale to measure anxiety and studies show that anxiety reduced by eight points when dental patients were given acupuncture as a treatment. This level of reduction is considered to be clinically relevant, which means that acupuncture could be a possibility for tackling dental anxiety.

Previous clinical trials have involved acupuncture for treatment on a range of conditions, including lower back pain, depression, and irritable bowel syndrome. There is, however, limited research detailing its impact on specific cases of anxiety.

More than 120 trials across England, China, Spain, Portugal and Germany were identified as having investigated the effects of acupuncture on patients with dental anxiety, and six trials were eligible for review, with two demonstrating high quality methods.

Professor of Acupuncture, Hugh MacPherson, at the University of York's Department of Health Sciences, said: "There is increasing scientific interest in the effectiveness of acupuncture either as a standalone treatment or as an accompanying treatment to more traditional medications.

"We have recently shown, for example, that acupuncture treatment can boost the effectiveness of standard medical care in chronic pain and depression.

"Chronic pain is often a symptom of a long-term condition, so to further our understanding of the various uses of acupuncture we wanted to see what it could achieve for conditions that occur suddenly, rapidly and as a reaction to particular experiences."

Studies that compared anxiety levels between patients that received acupuncture and those that did not, showed a significant difference in anxiety scores during dental treatment. A clinically relevant reduction in anxiety was found when acupuncture was compared with not receiving acupuncture.

No conclusions could be drawn, however, between patients that received acupuncture as an intervention and those that received placebo treatment, suggesting that larger scale controlled trials are needed to increase the robustness of the findings.

Professor MacPherson said: "These are interesting findings, but we need more trials that measure the impact of acupuncture on anxiety before going to the dentist, during treatment and after treatment.

"If is to be integrated into dental practices, or for use in other cases of extreme anxiety, then there needs to be more high quality research that demonstrates that it can have a lasting impact on the patient. Early indications look positive, but there is still more work to be done."

The research is published in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine.

Explore further: Can acupuncture help alleviate menopausal symptoms?

More information: Fraser Kirkwood Allan et al, Acupuncture for anxiety in dental patients: Systematic review and meta-analysis, European Journal of Integrative Medicine (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.eujim.2018.03.008

Related Stories

Can acupuncture help alleviate menopausal symptoms?

March 20, 2018
An umbrella review from Duke Clinical Research Institute that was a comprehensive assessment of previous systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials has found that women who received acupuncture had less frequent ...

Should doctors recommend acupuncture for pain?

March 7, 2018
Some see acupuncture as a safe alternative to drugs, while others argue there's no convincing evidence of clinical benefit and potential for harm. So should doctors recommend acupuncture for pain? Experts debate the issue ...

How do anesthesiologists view acupuncture and acupressure?

May 4, 2016
In a new study of anesthesia providers in the U.S., most report not having used or received any education in acupuncture or acupressure. However, the majority of those participants recognize the potential benefits of acupuncture ...

Harvard scientists ask 'what is the point?' in challenge to acupuncture researchers

March 22, 2018
The effectiveness of acupuncture compared to standard treatments has led to its growing inclusion in pain guidelines and in delivery organizations like the U.S. military and Veterans Administration, yet many continue to believe ...

Acupuncture boosts effectiveness of standard medical care for chronic pain and depression

January 30, 2017
Health specialists at the University of York have found than acupuncture treatment can boost the effectiveness of standard medical care, lessening the severity of chronic pain and depression.

Recommended for you

In helping smokers quit, cash is king, e-cigarettes strike out

May 23, 2018
Free smoking cessation aids, such as nicotine patches and chewing gum, are a staple of many corporate wellness programs aimed at encouraging employees to kick the habit. But, new research shows that merely offering such aids ...

What makes us well? Diversity, health care, and public transit matter

May 23, 2018
Diverse neighbors. Health centers. Commuter trains. These community attributes, and other key factors, are linked to well-being and quality of life, according to Yale researchers.

Time spent sitting at a screen matters less if you are fit and strong

May 23, 2018
The impact of screen time on cardiovascular disease, cancer incidence and mortality may be greatest in people who have lower levels of grip-strength, fitness and physical activity, according to a study published in the open ...

Widely used e-cigarette flavoring impairs lung function

May 23, 2018
A new study has found that a common e-cigarette flavoring that has chemical characteristics similar to toxic chemicals found in cigarette smoke disrupts an important mechanism of the lungs' antibacterial defense system. The ...

Study: Strenuous exercise in adolescence may ward off height loss later in life

May 23, 2018
A new study has identified several key factors in postmenopausal women that are associated with height loss, a common occurrence in this age group that is known to increase the risk for death and disease.

Early physical therapy benefits low-back pain patients

May 22, 2018
Patients with low-back pain are better off seeing a physical therapist first, according to a study of 150,000 insurance claims.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.