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Supporting Your Practice

Using Acupuncture in Dental Practice

Dr. David Campbell
Endodontist, President of the Canadian Academy of Endodontics

Acupuncture, the age-old stalwart of traditional Chinese medicine, is commonly used today as an adjunct treatment for pain and stress management across a wide range of health care disciplines. But what are the applications of acupuncture in the modern dental office, and does it have a place alongside modern pharmacological pain therapies?

In this episode of CDA Oasis Live, Dr. John O’Keefe, Director of Knowledge Networks CDA, invites Dr. David Campbell, endodontist from Moncton NB, to discuss the use of acupuncture in his practice.

“I was determined to see what would come of it and over time it has evolved into something that’s very useful. Almost every aspect of practice can benefit from acupuncture.”

Here are some of the key takeaways from the conversation…

  • Common applications of acupuncture in dentistry:
    • Dental pain – acute and post-op
    • Orofacial pain – TMD
    • Sedation/relief from dental anxiety
  • Acupuncture does not work with every patient, however, approximately 80% of people will benefit. As a means of pain relief, acupuncture is often tried when the patient has already tried other means and are therefore less likely to be responsive.
  • It is possible to do harm administering acupuncture if you do not know what you’re doing. However, with the right knowledge and training there is little that can go wrong. It is a low impact treatment.
  • Further resources:

We hope you find the conversation useful. We welcome your thoughts, questions and/or suggestions about this post and other topics. Leave a comment in the box below or send us your feedback by email.

Until next time!
CDA Oasis Team

Full Conversation (15.08")


  1. Dr K.A Galil July 22, 2021

    In the 1990s I went with Dr. Ralph Barolet (former Dean Of McGill dental school) as a delegate of the Canadian Dental Association to visit China and meet with Chinese faculty members in Beijing , Shanghai and Kunming Universities and we saw several treatments using acupuncture. I was impressed with their treatment of TMJ cases using acupuncture and Moxibustion.
    for the record in China, there are two clinics for dentistry to be accessed by the patients one is for (traditional Chinese treatments ) e.g. acupuncture and herbal treatment of dental problems and the other clinic is for the Western treatment for dental problems we visited Both and we were highly impressed with the treatment at both . As a periodontist i was highly impressed in the ’90s with their up to date research in periodontics in the western dental clinic and faculty which matched the top research of periodontics in the west
    Dr.K.A.Galil.Professor of Medicine and Professor of Dentistry
    DDS.,D.Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
    ,PH.D,FAGD.,FADI.,Cert.Periodontist(Uof Michigan) (Royal College Dent Surg.Ont)
    Departments of Periodontics,Orthodontics and Clinical Anatomy
    Schulich School Of Medicine and Dentistry.
    University of Western Ontario, London,Ontario.

  2. Thomas Kaus July 26, 2021

    Is the CDA uncritically supporting placebo treatments? In a time when evidence based treatment should be our goal it appears that more and more patients and health care providers are looking to add non evidence based therapeutic approaches (so called Alternative Medicine or Complementary Alternative Medicine – CAM) to their armamentarium. This video casually presented Paul Nogier’s European Ear acupuncture as well as the Chinese version, which is based non non existent Ch’i meridians, as a possible adjunct to address certain issues, which might occur in the dental office. It might be a good idea to interview someone like Prof. Edzard Ernst, who had a chair in Complementary Medicine in the UK, and who was evaluating the research and evidence that is usually brought forward to claim that CAM is more effective than a placebo. Prior to recommending any Placebo treatment, or promoting organizations that uncritically use placebo treatments it would be useful to interview a researcher that assessed the value of these interventions. As a summer read I would suggest an overview book called “Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial” by Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst. It is a good reminder of the slippery slope that someone might be starting when introducing alternative therapies into the dental practice.
    Years ago, prior to moving to Canada, I visited some of the seminars of the German Academy for Acupuncture out of interest. This society promotes bogus treatments for weight loss, allergies, infertility, depression, sleep disorders, etc. http://www.akupuntur.de
    The Canadian website (i.e. the above link) is less specific and merely mentions “Acupuncture is used to treat a vast number of painful conditions […] and other medical conditions”. Maybe Dr. Campbell could enlighten us, which other treatments they promote.
    It appears that these treatments are supported due to a lack of critical thinking and critical reading combined with a lack of understanding how treatment methods that lack a cause-effect relationship should be scientifically tested. Supporting such treatments without proper evidence is contrary to the progress we made by asking for sound evidence when treating our patients. Promoting treatments that have not proven an effect beyond a placebo effect has ethical implications.
    A blog from McGill by Jonathan Jarry calls this approach “a theatre of deception”. https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/pseudoscience/bad-science-lends-friendly-ear-ear-seeds

  3. Thomas Kaus July 26, 2021

    Correction: My previous comment contained a typo. The correct link to the German Acupuncture website is http://www.Akupunktur.de
    Another good overview about the effectiveness of acupuncture and its research issues is summarized by a science journalist and former assistant editor of ScienceBasedMedicine.org
    Paul Ingraham is based in Vancouver and might be an interesting interview partner to discuss the topic of acupuncture further. His recent blog discusses the use of acupuncture and its effectiveness in treating pain.


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