Diet & Nutrition

Easing dental dread

It is estimated that up to 30 percent of people experience odontophobia, or anxiety when they visit the dentist. A further one in 20 people suffer from such extreme fear that they cannot go at all. Anaesthetic drugs and nitrous oxide, or "happy gas" can both help to numb pain, but they do not necessarily counter the anxiety. Here are a few natural alternatives worth investigating.
According to a study published in Acupuncture in Medicine, the stimulation of two acupuncture points on the head, GV20 and EX6, cut anxiety scores in middle-aged men and women by 56 percent. All of these patients were then able to have the planned dental treatment.
In this study, the treatment was carried out by the dentists themselves, who were all members of a dental acupuncture society. However, you may be able to enlist the help of an acupuncturist who can work with your dentist to reduce your anxiety. To find an acupuncturist near you, visit www.acupuncture.org.au.
A number of studies have shown that music eases anxiety in nervous patients. In one of the largest ones, published in Ambulatory Pediatrics, more than 1500 children aged one to 18 years demonstrated a significant drop in anxiety prior to undergoing medical procedures if they listened to music.
Music has a two-fold effect: one, it relaxes the patient, and when their muscles and jaw are at ease, they are less likely to experience pain and post-procedural stiffness; and two, the music distracts the patient's attention so they are not as focused on what is being done to them.
Studies on adults and children, published in the European Journal of Anaesthesiology and Anesthesia & Analgesia, suggest that supplementation with this natural hormone, which regulates sleep, may also help to counter anxiety about different forms of surgery.
While full-strength melatonin is not yet available over the counter in Australia, you can buy homoeopathic melatonin from www.organicsaustraliaonline.com.au

Your say: Do you experience anxiety before you go to the dentist? How do you overcome your fear? Share with us below.

read more from