Background: Anxiety related to dental treatment is a common phenomenon that has a significant impact on the provision of appropriate dental care. The aim of this case series was to examine the effect of acupuncture given prior to dental treatment on the level of anxiety.
Methods: Eight dentists submitted 21 case reports regarding the treatment of dental anxiety. The level of anxiety was assessed by the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI). Only patients with moderate to severe anxiety (BAI score > or =16) were included. The remaining 20 patients, 16 women and 4 men, with a mean age of 40.3 years, had a median BAI score of 26.5 at baseline. The BAI score was assessed before and after the acupuncture treatment. All patients received acupuncture treatment for 5 min prior to the planned dental treatment using the points GV20 and EX6.
Results: There was a significant reduction in median value of BAI scores after treatment with acupuncture (26.5 reduced to 11.5; p<0.01), and it was possible to carry out the planned dental treatment in all 20 cases after acupuncture treatment. Previously this had only been possible in six cases.
Conclusion: Acupuncture prior to dental treatment has a beneficial effect on the level of anxiety in patients with dental anxiety and may offer a simple and inexpensive method of treatment. However, the present results need to be tested in a larger randomised clinical trial in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the acupuncture treatment in patients with dental anxiety.