Reducing Dental Anxiety With Non-Drug Alternatives

Millions of people around the world suffer from dental phobia, in some cases so severely that they avoid the dentist all together. Fortunately, there have been many developments in the field of sedation dentistry to medically assist patients in receiving the care they so desperately need. Yet for some, drug interventions are not the best option, leading scientists to explore non-drug alternatives. Recently, a team of German scientists examined the efficacy of several options, examining a total of 29 studies to learn of the most effective methods. Here are their findings, according to a recent article from the Dental Tribune.

After looking at more than 3,000 studies conducted on this topic over the past several decades, the team of psychologists and dentists at the Jena University Hospital selected the 29 most relevant studies.

“We only considered studies whose participants were randomly assigned to the intervention group and a control group,” said Sophia Burghardt in describing one of the strict quality criteria. “The studies looked at the effects of measures such as listening to music, relaxation exercises, distraction, hypnosis or detailed information before and during treatment for larger fillings, root canal therapy, third molar extraction and implant surgery, for example,” she continued.

After analyzing the data, the results confirmed the effectiveness of these approaches in relieving anxiety in most patients.

“We were surprised that nearly all interventions were effective in reducing the psychological burden, and the majority of patients reported a decrease in anxiety. By far the best results were found in the use of hypnosis,” said psychologist Dr. Jenny Rosendahl, who led the meta-analysis. “However, an analgesic effect of the investigated measures could not be proven. That’s probably because most dental procedures were performed under local anaesthesia anyway.”

The authors of the study are hopeful that their findings will encourage dental practitioners to offer non-pharmacological measures to their anxious patients, in addition to the standard treatment.

“Distracting pictures or music can already reduce the patients’ anxiety,” Rosendahl said.

The study, “Non-pharmacological interventions for reducing mental distress in patients undergoing dental procedures: Systematic review and meta-analysis,” was published in the November 2017 issue of the Journal of Dentistry.

At Miami Dental Sedation Spa, we specialize in an array of relaxation options, both drug and non-drug alternatives, to help all  of our anxious patients feel at ease during their visits. Contact us today to find out how we can help you achieve the oral health you deserve!