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Taking the misery out of the dentist's chair

Going to the dentist is not many people's idea of a good time, but a new breed of holistic practitioners claim they can take all the misery out of a trip to the dreaded chair.

Holistic dentists say they can overcome patients' anxieties. They also claim that techniques like acupuncture can replace anaesthetics and reduce the need for drugs.

And as concern grows about what some people claim are the harmful side effects caused by metal fillings and other conventional dental techniques more people are turning to other forms of treatment.

Penny Goodwin is one patient with a fear of the dentist who has been helped to overcome her phobia.

She developed a dread of the dentist as a teenager when she needed to have crowns fitted.

Even months of pain from an abscess failed to get her to the dentist. But now she has been helped to overcome her fear by receiving a form of relaxation therapy known as Su Jok acupuncture prior to getting into the dentist's chair.

Su Jok acupuncture therapists claim not only to relieve pain but also to use needles to bring peace to anxious patients.

Ms Goodwin told the BBC: "After the relaxation I actually had a filling removed and replaced without anaesthetic."

She says she is so pleased with the Korean acupuncture that she will now use it to relieve pain.

Meridian Therapy

Meridian Therapy is another technique borrowed from Chinese Medicine that's being pioneered at the Kamkus centre in London.

By tapping into our meridians or the lines of energy which run through and around our bodies - practitioners claim it is possible to overcome phobias.

Psychotherapist Don Alexander said: "It is one of those things that looks as though it should not work, but in fact it does. It is very simple, it can be done with children, animals even."

But ancient techniques from the east are not replacing conventional dental techniques.

Instead, practitioners want to combines them with the latest technology - such as laser treatment for gum disease - with more holistic approaches that treat the whole person rather than just their teeth.

Holistic dentist Ketan Patel said: "We treat not only routine orthodox dentistry, we are looking at things like joint problems and facial pain.

"We are also looking at other parts of the body where we can pick up things like diabetes from the gums."

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