It's so common it even has a name – Odontophobia, or dental phobia. It is estimated that at least 15 percent of adults have a severe fear of the dentist and will stay away from the dreaded dentist's chair at any cost. The result is that often patients will be in constant tooth pain and will forgo the treatment that would help them.
Dental phobia may be set off by a bad experience at the dentist, fear of needles and pain, or the sound of drilling. Either way, it is a real and debilitating anxiety for many people.
There is now a new relaxation technique being used by some dentists to naturally calm anxieties and allow patients to receive treatment without experiencing fear.
Devised by neuroscientists the system, called NuCalm, helps the patient reach a natural state of relaxation using a combination of naturally occurring chemicals found in the brain and sound waves to induce a sense of well being.
The process works in three stages. Firstly, the patient is given two pills – Gamma Amino Butryic Acid (GABA), which is also a nutritional supplement, and L-theanine, both found naturally in the brain, which begins the calming effect.
Next, is the Cranial Electrostimulation Device (CES), which is already FDA approved and has been used for treating anxiety for a number of years. A low electric current (one millionth of an amp) passes through the brain. Coupled with the GABA the patient will begin to feel deep relaxation within minutes.
The final stage is the music, via a set of headphones. The music is delivered at a specific frequency to change the brainwaves into a pattern found during deep relaxation, similar to when you are just about to fall asleep. The patient also puts on dark glasses to avoid any visual stimulation.
In clinical trials and reported in the Academy of General Dentistry Journal, all patients who were given the CES during their dental treatment had their symptoms improve by 50 percent.
CES is able to treat a wide range of anxiety disorders like post-traumatic stress and insomnia by encouraging the brain to release serotonin and dopamine, both known to induce relaxation.
When using NuCalm patients enter the alpha stage of sleep, which is the state between sleep and waking, without using drugs or experiencing any side effects. Patients are also able to respond to the dentist's voice enabling him/her to give treatment unimpeded.