Acupuncturist Questions Acupuncture

How is acupuncture an alternative treatment in dentistry?

I know acupuncture treats a wide range of diseases and disorders, but this seems a little out there. I've been dealing with tooth pain for quite a while, and my mom suggested that I should try acupuncture instead of going to the dentist. I looked at her like she was crazy, but when I did some research, I found out that acupuncture for dental pain is actually a thing. Does it work? How is it really done?

12 Answers

I have treated dental pain quite a few times, but acupuncture is not a replacement for dental work that needs to be done. It can help with jaw and gum pain, TMJ, and Trigeminal neuralgia, but I don't know if it would help the pain of a bad tooth or a cavity, and it's certainly not going to fix tooth or gum disease. But if it's pain that the dentist just can't fix, try acupuncture.

Hope this helps!
Dental pain is just another form of pain, it just happens to happen in your mouth. Acupuncture can help move blockages in the body's flow, can help relax muscles that are preventing movement and can help the body to regulate growth properly for areas that may not be regenerating well. The mouth is no area of exception.

I can give you a personal experience: I had to have a tooth pulled out two years ago and had to have my jaw bone cut up in the process to help me get a dental implant. The doctor gave me a prescription for pain meds, but all I had to do was needle three points and I had no pain. I went back for more work and the doctor was pushing on my jaw the whole time he worked, so the next day I had a couple of my acupuncture students work on some other points to relieve the pain my neck endured from his jaw pushing work. I never used the prescription in either time. Once the body is flowing properly again, there is no pain.

In order to fully answer your question, I would need to know your full case. If you choose to go get acupuncture, you'll need to be assessed by the practitioner on which is the best route to take for you.

Good luck.
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Acupuncture existed before modern medicine. So as long as you keep that in mind, everything else starts to make sense. If the tooth is rotten or damaged, please go to the dentist. But if you have pain in the jaw or mouth, please come see me or any other qualified practitioner. There are may causes for tooth and mouth pain. Acupuncture has proven to be effective. Depending on your condition, I can direct you better as to how we would apply acupuncture and how it would greatly improve your quality of life.
It done as a secondary measure or in addition
Acupuncture for dental pain IS a thing. However, it's very important to see a dentist to address the cause of the pain. If there is an infection or abscess it should be treated immediately because these types of infections can have serious complications. There are Chinese herbs that can help, but with this type of infection, you wouldn't want to take any chances. So while I support acupuncture for relieving dental pain, I also support seeing a dentist to find and fix the cause of the pain.
No, and I am pretty open to alternative treatments.
Acupuncture has very good anti-inflammation effects and thus can reduce the local inflammation of your dental area. Also, acupuncture can induce the body to release neurotransmitters (i.e., endorphins) to ease the pain. These are the mechanisms of how acupuncture works and help for toothache and inflammation. However, you still need to work with your dentist for cavities, gingivitis, and other dental problems. Acupuncture can help, but still needs dentist to take care the root issues.
I am glad to hear this question. Personally, I have tried acupuncture for dental pain in myself. It gave me instant relief. Then I found out auricular acupuncture worked the best in my 35 years of practice. It is the same principle for pain control as the body acupuncture does. It triggers our brain to release androgenic substances for pain block.
Hi there,

Very interesting! I have used acupuncture to deal with a patient’s gag reflex. Alternative medicine is interesting, but not a panacea to deal with all dental pain. Perhaps if the pin is muscular, it may help, but if tooth-related, you will need to see a dentist.
Hope this helps.
Hi there,

Please consult your physician first for any referral and recommendation. Having said that, TCM is known to treat pain. According to TCM, pain could be due to "qi" stagnation, blood stagnation, due to heat (inflammation), and cold. TCM also has herbal medicine that can help with pain as well. Have your doctor refer you to your nearest acupuncture clinic and give it a try.
Good luck!
If your pain is truly from a problem tooth, acupuncture will NOT resolve your problem. Resolution can only be achieved by treating the tooth.
I treat folks for dental pain all the time. If you haven't already, I'd strongly suggest having a dentist take a look. You may be dealing with a cracked tooth or a cavity in which case, you're eventually going to need to have work done.
Acupuncture can definitely help manage any pain/discomfort in the meantime.

If you have dental anxiety, acupuncture can also help. If this is the case, I'd suggest scheduling an acupuncture appointment either the same day (ideal) or 24 hours prior to your dental appointment.

Explaining how it works is a little more complicated. From the perspective of biochemistry, acupuncture appears to be affecting a set of neurotransmitters which have a lot to do with the transmission of pain signals in the brain and spinal cord. There is also evidence that acupuncture is changing the way the pre-frontal cortex in the brain processes pain signals coming from the body.

Generally, for tooth/mouth pain, I'll use points on the hands and feet.

For the best results, please make sure you're seeing an NCCAOM board certified acupuncturist. You can go to the "Find a Practitioner" page at NCCAOM.org to get a list of folks local to you.