Podcast: The Role of Acupuncture in Dentistry

Daniel Vinograd

“Hello! This is Dr. Daniel Vinograd, holistic dentist in San Diego, California. And today, I’d like to speak with you about acupuncture in dentistry.

Acupuncture is a very old modality that began in China. Actually it began prior to Chinese records. They actually have found some stone and bone needles or sharp instruments that they used to use to make acupuncture an effective treatment. Rumors say that they found that to be the case when people were wounded in different areas and they observed that that seem to actually have an effect on some of the illnesses that these people had related to the injury.

It is thought that acupuncture started in China and the earliest records we have is in 200 B.C.E. After that, it actually spread out throughout Asia, Korea, Japan, et cetera. And even though there are different techniques, the basic concept is the same. It is thought by eastern medicine that there are energy flows in the body with certain paths, recognizable paths similar to the trajectory of a river. And these river paths have meridians that they travel through and are associated with different organs and so forth and different energy flow.

There are areas in the body where—just like the river, sometimes the river will move closer to one side of the river than the other. And sometimes it will be deeper, sometimes it will be shallower. In this case, when those meridians or those areas of chi flow get a little bit to the surface, those are considered to be acupuncture points and by actually stimulating those specific points, trained acupuncturist can actually regulate the flow of such energy which they call ‘chi’. By doing so, and finding out where the flow is healthy and when it is stagnant, by regulating such a flow, they feel that they can create balance.

There have been a lot of words, different studies that have actually shown the effectiveness of acupuncture. We are relatively new in the western world. And just to give you an idea, it was just not until the early 1970s where the first acupuncture clinic was established in the US. I believe it was in Washington, D.C.

Now, acupuncture has quite a number of applications and is used as one of the core pillars in eastern medicine. But as far as dentistry is concerned, the most effective applications of acupuncture are for pain management, for increasing the pain thresholds and tolerating pain a little bit better.

And, when it comes to pain management, we particularly or specifically are talking about TMD, temporomandibular disease, joint pain and post-operative pain, which is a big one. If we can manage to keep that pain after the appointment down, that’s a great deal.

To me, one of the most important applications though is anxiety. Statistics show that about 5% of Americans have crippling dental anxiety. When we talk about crippling dental anxiety, they could not even fathom walking past a dental office, let alone walking inside.

Twenty to thirty percent of the population seems to have moderate to severe anxiety. So we’re talking about quite a large percentage of the population. And in my experience, the percentage is even higher than that that exhibit a lot of anxiety. In another podcast, I have talked a little bit about why that anxiety is so prevalent.

But having seen those statistics, we can see that any kind of modality to help patients relax and reduce the anxiety in the dental office can be very helpful. In the dental setting, post-operative management is a little bit harder because we are not – [inaudible 00:05:41] although they can get follow-up treatments at an acupuncturist office. But in the dental office, I believe one of the most important applications is anxiety control.

There are a couple of important studies, double-blind studies that show significant reduction of anxiety before the treatment when acupuncture is used. And so that would be an important relationship between acupuncture and dentistry. Of course, in the U.S., you have to be a trained acupuncturist, so a lot of the holistic dentist either will bring an acupuncturist into the office or will have follow-up treatments with them.

I hope this is helpful. It’s been nice being with you. Stay healthy.”


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Dr. Daniel Vinograd, DDS |
10450 Friars Rd, San Diego, CA 92120 |
Phone: 619-630-7174    •    Dr. Vinograd, DDS, is a Dentist in San Diego, CA, offering services as a periodontist, and providing teeth whitening, dental crowns, invisalign, implants, lumineers, dentures, root canals, holistic, family and cosmetic dentistry.

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