Dental Tribune International

Study finds acupuncture could help with dental anxiety

YORK, UK: Fear of the dentist is something some people suffer from more than others. With multiple reasons for dental anxiety and its effects, there is however limited research on its impact and possible treatment methods. In an effort to look deeper into the topic, researchers from the University of York have recently reviewed a number of studies on treating dental anxiety with acupuncture, and the results show it could be a helpful tool.

For the systematic review and meta-analysis, six trials with a total of 800 patients were chosen from almost 130 eligible trials. The researchers used a points scale to measure anxiety, and in the studies included, anxiety was shown to be reduced by eight points when dental patients were given acupuncture as a treatment. According to the researchers, this level of reduction is considered to be clinically relevant, indicating that acupuncture could be a possibility for treating dental anxiety.

Co-author Dr Hugh MacPherson, Professor of Acupuncture Research 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.”

Of the six studies, those that compared anxiety levels between patients that received acupuncture and those that did not show a significant difference in anxiety scores during dental treatment. However, the researchers noted that no conclusions could be drawn between patients that received acupuncture as an intervention and those that received placebo treatment, and suggested that larger controlled trials are needed to increase the robustness of the findings.

“If acupuncture 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,” said MacPherson.

The study, titled “Acupuncture for anxiety in dental patients: Systematic review and meta-analysis”, was published in the June 2018 issue of the European Journal of Integrative Medicine.

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