Potential Breakthrough Treatment for Dental Anxiety Pinpointed

While many people are able to visit the dentist and have dental work performed without experiencing much distress, a number of dental clients find themselves worrying over procedures, and a percentage of these experience intense fear and anxiety surrounding such an event, a reaction that is sometimes responsible for preventing or halting treatment. A number of methods for calming such symptoms have been proposed and tested, but none have thus far proven as potentially effective as acupuncture, a method recently tested in a study published in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine.

Researchers are excited about the possibilities of treating clients with acupuncture prior to dental procedures as the relative simplicity of the treatment may allow dentists to perform anxiety relief without requiring extensive training for psychotherapeutic assistance. After exposing participants who were screened for their levels of anxiety surrounding dental work via the Back Anxiety Inventory or BAI to a few minutes of acupuncture consisting of two needle placements, the researchers noted a significant drop in anxiety levels. All of the participants were also able to complete their procedures during the subsequent session, compared with a notable failure rate when the treatment was not present.

Though traditional therapy may still prove most effective for many clients, the potential displayed by acupuncture treatment in the study may help shape the way that anxiety in the dental chair is addressed, and some professionals hope that no matter the treatment type or field, effective treatment will be more readily accessible as a result. Specific training in acupuncture would be necessary for dentists hoping to incorporate the practice into their procedures, but this may prove more convenient and consequentially viable than other forms of training for handling anxious dental clients.

© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Dawn Simmons

    Dawn Simmons

    March 31st, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    My dad had a lot of dental issues a few years ago and suffered a lot…he underwent multiple methods to try and fix the dental problems that he had…and although he visited several dental surgeons, none was able to provide a lasting treatment without any recurrance of the problem.My dad was obviously anxious about this and we could see that he was now beginning to think that it will never be fixed…thankfully we then found an excellent dental surgeon who guided him through what had hapened about his problem and what the others had failed to observe…that little counseling provided by that experienced doctor was as important as the treatment itself!



    March 31st, 2010 at 3:09 PM

    Considering the fact that most of the dental problems are due to problems with the nerves in the oral region,it makes good sense to use acupuncture to aid it…acupuncture is a tried and tested method to cure a lot of complications and also to regulate blood flow.

  • D.Hubbard


    April 1st, 2010 at 5:48 AM

    the best thing about acupuncture is that it is comparitively cost effective and is free of any side efffects,something that cannot be assured while using pharamaceuticals…more study should be done to find out as to which other field can make use of acupuncture because it is a very versatile method of treatment.

  • Carla


    April 1st, 2010 at 7:14 AM

    For those out there who have in the past laughed off alternative forms of treatment this is their wake up call. There are so many healing methods that many people doctors included do not take into account, things which can really help so many to improve their quality of life. Think of how many people have gone without dental appointments because they had nothing to help them conquer their fears. This could be the answer for that. I have long been a proponent that there are better ways to improve experiences such as this, and accupuncture may be only one piece of the puzzle. But look at how promising this appears to be. Kudos to those who have not given up on this kind of research and who are taking healing and holistic approaches to health to a whole new level.

  • Mollie W.

    Mollie W.

    April 1st, 2010 at 12:19 PM

    This could come as a boon to children as well,because they are often stubborn about seeing the dentist for fear of the instruments used…acupuncture can be used to calm them down in a painless manner and without the use of meds!

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