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.
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