Anxiety before and during dental treatments is quite common with some people requiring sedation for relatively simple procedures such as a general cleaning. Austrian researchers from the Medical University of Vienna recently conducted a study evaluating the effectiveness of auricular acupuncture to help control this pre-dental treatment anxiety.
Researchers randomized 182 patients into an auricular treatment group and a sham body acupuncture treatment group. Within the auricular group the points "tranquilizer" and "master cerebral" were used (see our auricular "master points" page for location and more information). Treatment was provided immediately before dental treatments and a baseline and post treatment analysis of anxiety levels were taken (using the Spielberger State Trait Anxiety Inventory).
Researchers found significant reductions in both pre and post dental treatment anxiety levels within the auricular treatment group and (7.3 point reduction vs. 3.7 point reduction in the sham group).
Further studies should be done to ascertain how long before the treatments acupuncture would be effective, also if leaving press balls or seeds in the ear (common practice) would be helpful and maintain lowered anxiety levels. Also there are other auricular points such as those specific to dental analgesia and shen men which is commonly used within auricular acupuncture that should also be evaluated.
Auricular acupuncture could be an option for patients scheduled for dental treatment, who experience an uncomfortable degree of anxiety and request an acute intervention for their anxiety.
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