Don’t let dental anxiety keep you from regular cleaning and check-ups or necessary procedures. According to research, 31 percent of adults are fearful of the dentist’s chair. While sedation dentistry has seen a surge in popularity, acupuncture can be just as effective in improving patient compliance and easing anxiety.
Those who face an extreme fear of dental visits often put off even basic cleaning appointments. You may brush your teeth and floss daily, but according to many dentists, this is not enough. Once plaque hardens and turns into what is known as Calculus, it can only be removed by certain equipment at the hands of a dental professional. In addition, it’s essential to pencil in regular check-ups to screen for gum disease, oral cancer, and early tooth decay, which can all lead to serious health problems. When caught early, individuals have a higher chance of a successful outcome. You’ll be able to prevent more dramatic procedures, such as tooth extraction and root canal treatment, both of which are sure to cause mild dental anxiety to skyrocket.
So what is a dental-phobe to do? Try acupuncture. Not only does acupuncture have no side effects, it’s a natural way to reduce stress. In a study titled, “Auricular Acupuncture for Dental Anxiety,” published in 2007, the efficacy of auricular acupuncture was compared to that of intranasal midazolam, placebo acupuncture, and no treatment at all for acute dental anxiety. Patients who received auricular acupuncture and intranasal midazolam were significantly less anxious than those who received no treatment or placebo acupuncture after 30 minutes. Researchers concluded that auricular acupuncture was just as effective as the medication, without the inherent side effects. Plus, you’ll be fully conscious and alert, allowing you engage in the activities you have planned after your dentist appointment.
In an article published on ABC News, the author referenced another study that found patients resistant to dental procedures due to fear, successfully completed treatment after only five minutes of acupuncture. Three acupuncture points on the inside of the ear have been shown to be particularly effective.
Keep in mind that for maximum benefits and safety it’s imperative to visit a licensed acupuncturist, as opposed to a dentist or doctor who practices acupuncture after a short certification course. Some dental clinics have licensed acupuncturists on site, others allow the patient’s licensed acupuncturist to attend the appointment with them, and nearly all acupuncturists will be willing to schedule a treatment that coincides with a trip to the dentist. If you’re receiving acupuncture at another location, you will want to undergo your treatment immediately before seeing your dentist. Some licensed acupuncturists will leave their patients with ear seeds to prolong relaxation.
Not only has acupuncture been proven to lessen anxiety before, during, and after dental procedures, it can also address sensitive gag reflexes and pain following tooth extractions, root canals, and mouth infections. Inform your licensed acupuncturist about your dental anxiety or dental concerns so that they can customize the treatment to suit your particular needs.