The Connection Between Acupuncture And Dentistry
How did a practice as ancient and distant as acupuncture become a part of American dentistry? The relationship has grown as acupuncture has proven its role in reducing pain and eliminating anxiety.
Acupuncture is a healing modality that dates back to ancient times and has been used throughout history to treat a number of conditions and problems in the human body. Began in China before recorded history started, the first procedures apparently used needles made of bone or rock and other sharp instruments. Some believe that acupuncture started when people who were injured in certain parts of their body noticed a positive impact on illnesses or conditions they had.
The earliest recorded incidents of acupuncture or something similar date back to BCE 200. Not long after that, records show that the practice began to spread around Asia, especially in Korea and Japan. The techniques began to vary as the practice spread, but the general principles remained the same, as they do today.
Here’s the idea: Eastern medicine focuses around the idea that there are so-called meridians — or rivers — of energy that flow through the body. The energy that flows through these rivers is called chi, and it’s the life force. In some places in the body, the chi rivers flow deep. At other places, they’re close to the surface. The places where chi is close to the surface are the points at which acupuncture is most effective.
By stimulating or poking at these acupuncture points, a well-trained individual can impact the flow of chi to positively impact the patient. It is possible when done properly for acupuncture to balance the energy flow and clear pools of stagnant, unhealthy energy.
Research has been conducted for decades, and some of it shows just how effective this ancient practice can be for a variety of purposes. In the Western world, doctors, dentists and people in general have been relatively slow to warm to the many benefits of acupuncture. In fact, most sources say it was the 1970s before an acupuncture clinic opened in the United States, although the practice was done in isolated circumstances in this country before that.
Now, acupuncture has proven itself to be effective for many purposes in the Western world and continues to be a cornerstone of Eastern medicine. So how does dentistry interact with this practice? In most cases, dentists use acupuncture for pain management and for reduction for anxiety — often with excellent results.
In the case of chronic pain like from TMD or post-operative pain after dental procedures, acupuncture has been shown to make a real difference. And easing people’s pain improves their quality of life, something good medical professionals always desire to do.
Even more important, perhaps, is the use of acupuncture for the reduction of anxiety. Conservatively, at least 5 percent of American have debilitating dental anxiety. That means they suffer so much from the thought of a dental office that they don’t even like to walk or drive by one.
Amazingly, an additional to 20 percent to perhaps 30 percent of people have been shown to have a moderate anxiety related to dentists and dental procedures. And the percentage is anecdotally believed to be even higher than that. That means that finding a way to reduce anxiety is essential for many patients.
Anything that can reduce dental anxiety can make it easier for people to get the dental assistance they so desperately need. And studies have shown time and again that acupuncture really works for this purpose as it does for so many others.
To practice acupuncture in the United States, an acupuncturist must be professionally trained. For that reason, many holistic dentists bring in practitioners of acupuncture or send patients for follow-up procedures with these professionals.
Once considered an old way of doing things, the idea of acupuncture is new again. And it’s a service we offer as part of our dental spa experience. Contact us now at (619) 640-5100 for an appointment with Dr. Vinograd.