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Neuroscientists Highlight Role of Sound in Dental Anxiety

Neuroscientists have been providing us great insights into the core reasons why people experience dental anxiety for a long time. After all, NuCalm drug-free sedation dentistry is the result of applying complex neuroscience to the issue of dental anxiety. Researchers recently presented work at the Society of Neuroscience convention further enhancing our understanding of the role of sound in creating dental anxiety.

What the Researchers Did

Researchers in Japan wanted to examine the role of brain function in creating dental anxiety. To do this they divided 34 volunteers based on their level of dental anxiety. The 21 women and 13 men, aged 19 to 49, were broken into groups of high or low fear of the dentist.

Volunteers listened to a variety of sounds, including a mixture of dental sounds, such as the drill, and neutral sounds, while inside a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine (fMRI). The fMRI can detect activity levels in different parts of the brain, so researchers could see how people were responding to each of the sounds.

When played dental sounds, people with low fear of the dentist showed a heightened response in the superior temporal gyri, which is a place in the brain that is normally associated with interpreting sounds.

But people with high dental anxiety saw activity in a different part of the brain, the left caudate nucleus, activity that is much more complex and hard to interpret.

How the Researchers Interpreted Results

Researchers attributed activity in the left caudate nucleus to its role in learning, saying that people with high dental anxiety were devoting more energy to learning and remembering the sounds.

This may be why the left caudate nucleus is being activated, but this region of the brain has many roles that may also be related to its role in dental anxiety. The region helps make complex cost-benefit analyses, performs a role in inhibition, and regulates goal-directed action.

It seems more likely that the caudate nucleus may be activated to help people respond to frightening stimuli in many ways, such as making a decision about the benefit of staying for dental treatment or fleeing from frightening stimuli, suppressing a terror reaction, or trying to make an escape plan.

It’s worth noting that this research was presented at a scholarly conference, so it hasn’t undergone peer review and should be considered rough. We also only have a summary of the paper from a newspaper, not a direct statement from the researchers, so that could introduce some uncertainty as well.

NuCalm Counters Frightening Sounds

The designers of NuCalm appreciated the role of sounds in contributing to dental anxiety. That’s why the system uses noise-cancelling headphones to help block out sounds that can cause you to feel more nervous. It also utilizes the power of sound to help put your brain in a relaxed state.

If you suffer from dental anxiety and want a drug-free way to overcome it, please contact Beyond Exceptional Dentistry in Savannah, Georgia today to learn whether NuCalm can help you.

By |December 3rd, 2013|Uncategorized|