Let's be honest, going to the dentist isn't exactly a walk in the park. If you feel queasy or faint while sitting in the waiting room or the examination chair, you're not alone. Dental anxiety affects an estimated 30 percent of the global adult population, according to a new study published by the European Journal of Integrative Medicine.
Hoping to ease patients' dental anxiety without resorting to prescriptions, a team of researchers turned to one nontraditional alternative: acupuncture. The team reviewed more than 120 instances in which patients received acupuncture before plopping down on the dentist's chair across England, China, Germany, Portugal, and Spain. Using a points scale, the researchers compared anxiety levels between patients who received acupuncture and those who did not. Analysts found six eligible cases that provided evidence that acupuncture (especially around the ears) is an effective treatment for people who experience dental anxiety.
"There is increasing scientific interest in the effectiveness of acupuncture either as a standalone treatment or as an accompanying treatment to more traditional medications," Hugh MacPherson, Ph.D, and Professor of Acupuncture at the University of York's Department of Health Sciences, said in a statement.
But don't don't go sticking tiny needles on your face just yet. While the results of this study are promising, experts agree that there's a bit more digging that needs to be done.
"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," Dr. MacPherson said. "Early indications look positive, but there is still more work to be done."
Tips on How to Say Calm at the Dentist
So what's a dental anxiety-prone lady to do? If you're not gung-ho with the whole acupuncture idea, here are a few alternative ways to curb your anxiety.
1. Talk to your dentist. Don't just sit there shaking in fear. Sharing your concerns with your dentist is one of the easiest ways to receive immediate help. If he or she is aware of your anxieties, then they'll be able to adapt the treatment to your specific needs.
2. Practice breathing exercises. Nervousness tends to make people choke up. Try focusing on breathing slow, regular breaths to reduce your stress levels.
3. Schedule your appointment on a Saturday. Book an appointment during a time when the office isn't overly busy. Unfortunately, this might mean an early-morning appointment or a Saturday. But if it helps you feel less rushed, we say go for it.
Still worried? Check out the video below to see how a 127-year-old woman deals with her daily anxieties: