Patients with dental phobias will now be able to relax in the dentist’s chair, as new brain calming technology can help de–stress those with even the worst fears.
New equipment developed by neuroscientists in America is being introduced in dental surgeries in the UK to help calm patients who suffer anxiety during treatments.
The new equipment, named NuCalm, induces a state of deep relaxation using systems know as Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES). A generator is connected to a headset worn by the patient and transmits relaxing electrical and sound frequencies to the brain.
After five minutes brain waves slow down to a state which is associated with meditation, sleep and deep relaxation.
Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter said of the new technology: “This is a great step forward. A recent survey we conducted for National Smile Month found that one in four people do not visit the dentist because of a phobia. If people know they will be ok when they’re in the chair, that they won’t be overcome by anxiety, it could be enough to encourage more people to go on a regular basis.”
Dr Carter added: “It is vital people go for regular dental check–ups. Dentists are at the forefront of oral health–care and are the best source for discovering serious problems such as mouth cancer and gum disease.
“Mouth cancer is the fastest growing cancer in the UK, with 5,000 new cases being diagnosed each year. If this illness is caught in the early stages it massively improves chances of survival. That’s why this development is so important. We need to get people into the dentist chair on a regular basis, and anything that does that can only be beneficial to oral health–care.”
During the treatment patients are asked to wear dark glasses and are given tablets of a brain chemical called GABA. The tablets, which are commonly available as a nutritional supplement, combined with the glasses help to deepen the sense of relaxation the patient experiences.
Trials have found that CES can be effective for people suffering with stress, chronic anxiety, insomnia and post–traumatic stress. CES encourages the release of brain chemicals, serotonin and dopamine, both of which are related to feelings of well–being and relaxation.