Acupuncture can positively interact with dental treatment in two very significant ways, in the treatment of pain and anxiety.
Acupuncture is used to treat pain and anxiety in general practice and because of the long history of acupuncture’s engagement with the treatment of pain and anxiety there is much to be gained from using acupuncture as a compliment to dental treatment.
How can acupuncture help reduce anxiety?
“The body is the mind.” Acupuncture can reduce the symptoms of anxiety by managing levels of hormones like adrenaline and reducing heart rate. When the body is constantly communicating to the mind that it is relaxed and “there is no need to panic” anxiety is reduced.
- see note 1 below
How can acupuncture help manage pain?
Acupuncture simulates the release of endogenous opioids, the body’s natural painkillers.
- see note 2 below
What would this treatment be like?
1 -At the point of dental treatment. Acupuncture at the point of treatment, i.e. when the dental work is being done can help with pain management and with anxiety. This will involve distal and auricular points (points away from the area of treatment and points on the ears.
2- Leading up to dental treatment and/ or .. Leading up to dental treatment for a nervous patient a combination of auricular, and body points will be used to reduce anxiety leading up getting the dental work done.
3- During a course of dental treatment. A combination of body and auricular points leading up to and between appointments with the dentist.
Notes- These notes are just a place to start in terms of looking into the research on Acupuncture treatment for pain and anxiety. Please contact me if you have any questions about the use and effectiveness of acupuncture.
A UK pilot study suggests that acupuncture may be a promising intervention for patients with chronic anxiety symptoms that have proven resistant to other forms of treatment.
Note 2- A quote from Robert M. Sapolsky’s excellent book “Why Zebras don’t get ulcers”-
“Why would the brain make receptors for a class of compounds (opiates like morphine) synthesized in poppy plants? The realization rushes in; there must be some chemical- a neurotransmitter? A hormone?- made in the body that is structurally similar to opiates. Some kind of endogenous morphine must naturally occur in the brain….
…They turned out to come in three different classes- enkephalins, dynorphins, and most famous of them all, endorphins (a contraction for “endogenous morphines”). The opiate receptors were discovered to bind these endogenous opioid compounds, just as predicted…..
Acupuncture stimulates the release of large quantities of endogenous opioids….”
This is study into the benefits of acupuncture in pain management during dental treatment for children: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubm
There is also good evidence to support the use of acupuncture to reduce and manage the gagging reflex that many patients find interferes with their ability to undergo dental treatment.
Here are details of a small study on that subject-
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