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  • Writer's picturePhilip Niño Tan-Gatue

Acupuncture for Dental Pain



Dental pain is a common condition that affects people of all ages. The pain can be caused by various factors, such as tooth decay, gum disease, or injury. Traditional treatments for dental pain often involve medication or surgery, which may have side effects or risks. However, acupuncture has emerged as a safe and effective alternative treatment for dental pain.


Several studies have shown that acupuncture can effectively relieve dental pain. A review of 16 randomized controlled trials found that acupuncture was significantly more effective than medication or placebo in reducing pain intensity and duration. Another study showed that acupuncture reduced pain and inflammation in patients with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), a common cause of dental pain.


A study (link) published in the Japanese Dental Science Review took several papers and did a meta-analysis. It was reported that :

A systematic review of controlled trials being published between database inception and 2020 were conducted to evaluate the efficacy of acupuncture (alone or as complementary therapy) compared to local anesthesia or conventional analgesic medications in acute dental pain (intraoperatively and postoperatively) and to clarify whether acupuncture reduces the use of postoperative analgesic medications.

Upon closer scrutiny of the studies, the authors found:

Of 1672 publications, 23 publications met the inclusion criteria. From these, 11 randomized controlled trials (n = 668) reported on the efficacy of acupuncture on postoperative acute dental pain. Patients, who received acupuncture, showed lower pain scores postoperatively compared to sham acupuncture (Relative Risk -0.77, 95% Confidence interval -1.52 to -0.03).

What this means is that acupuncture can seemingly help in dental procedures both during and after the fact. However,

...but the results are limited due to methodological shortcomings emphasizing the necessity for future high-quality research

I would very much like to coordinate with the UP College of Dentistry to try making our own studies on this!

Müller, M., Schmucker, C., Naumann, J., Schlueter, N., Huber, R., & Lederer, A. K. (2023). Acupuncture in management of acute dental pain - A systematic review and meta-analysis. The Japanese dental science review, 59, 114–128. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jdsr.2023.02.005

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