By Dr. Brian McDonough

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It is called odontophobia: severe anxiety about dentistry.

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I am sure you have heard the ads about dentists who work with you to reduce the stress of the visit. It is no accident: a third of all people say they have moderate anxiety when seeing the dentist.

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There are many ways to reduce this kind of anxiety and, for most, it is a simple conversation with the dentist that can help. But for those with more of a struggle other options are always being studied.

Take the case of an English study that looked at acupuncture. The acupuncture treatment targeted two points on the top of the head and, although it was a small study of just thirty people, over sixty percent felt that their fears were somewhat alleviated.

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Evidence shows that acupuncture helps release endorphins, which act not only as painkillers, but also as sedatives.