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Complement Ther Med. 2017 Dec;35:64-69. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2017.08.008. Epub 2017 Aug 24.

Complementary and alternative therapies in dentistry and characteristics of dentists who recommend them.

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Department of Operative and Preventive Dentistry, School of Dentistry, Faculty of Health, Witten/Herdecke University, Alfred-Herrhausen-Straße 50, D-58448 Witten, Germany. Electronic address:
Institute of Integrative Medicine, Faculty of Health, Witten/Herdecke University, Gerhard Kienle-Weg 4, 58313 Herdecke, Germany.
Institute of Integrative Medicine, Faculty of Health, Witten/Herdecke University, Gerhard Kienle-Weg 4, 58313 Herdecke, Germany. Electronic address:



The aims of this study were to analyse whether dentists offer or recommend complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) remedies in their clinical routine, and how effective these are rated by proponents and opponents. A second aim of this study was to give a profile of the dentists endorsing CAM.


A prospective, explorative, anonymised cross-sectional survey was spread among practicing dentists in Germany via congresses, dental periodicals and online (n=250, 55% male, 45% female; mean age 49.1±11.4years).


Of a set of 31 predefined CAM modalities, the dentists integrated plant extracts from Arnica montana (64%), chamomile (64%), clove (63%), Salvia officinalis (54%), but also relaxation therapies (62%), homeopathy (57%), osteopathic medicine (50%) and dietetics (50%). The effectiveness of specific treatments was rated significantly higher (p<0.0001) by CAM proponents than opponents. However also CAM opponents classified some CAM remedies as highly effective, namely ear acupuncture, osteopathic medicine and clove. For ear acupuncture these scores did not significantly differ between both groups. With respect to the characteristic of the proponents, the majority of CAM endorsing dentists were women. The mean age (50.4±0.9 vs 47.0±0.9years) and number of years of professional experience (24.2±1.0 vs 20.0±1.0years) were significantly higher for CAM proponents than the means for opponents (p<0.0001 respectively). CAM proponents worked significantly less (p<0.0001) and their perceived workload was significantly lower (p=0.008). Their self-efficacy expectation (SEE) and work engagement (Utrecht work engagement, UWE) were significantly higher (p≤0.01 and p<0.0001) compared to dentists who abandoned these treatment options. The logistic regression model showed (exploratively) an increased association from CAM proponents with the UWES subscale dedication, with years of experience, and that men are less likely to be CAM proponents than women.


Various CAM treatments are recommended by German dentists and requested by their patients, but the scientific evidence for these treatments are often low or at least unclear. CAM proponents are often female, have higher SE and work engagement.


Characteristics of dentists endorsing CAM; Clinical usage; Complementary medicine; Effectiveness

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