We Can Help – Acupuncture is Effective Treating TMJ and Other Dental or Facial Pain Conditions

Increasing controversy exists regarding treatment options for TMJ. As such, there is a renewed interest in alternative treatments for TMJ. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) discourages the public from electing options which had previously been viewed as effective.

New Understanding of the Causes of TMJ

Until recently, TMJ was believed to be caused by an improper alignment of the jaw. Accordingly, the use of common treatments including a variety of techniques aimed at correcting the alignment, have been called into question. Luther F. (2007) TMD and Occlusion Part II Damned If We Don’t. Functional Occlusal Problems: TMD Epidemiology in a Wider Context. Br. Dent J. 202(1):E3,38-9. The author concludes that evidence is lacking to support the proposition that functional occlusal factors cause TMD.  Consistent with this position, the NIH (NIDCR) currently advises:

“[i]reversible treatments that have not been proven to be effective — and may make that problem worse –include orthodontics to change the bite; crown and bridge work to balance the bite; grinding down teeth to bring the bite into balance, called “occlusal adjustment”; and repositioning splints; also called orthotics, which permanently alter the bite . . .”

Surgical treatments are controversial, often irreversible, and should be avoided where possible. There have been no long-term clinical trials to study the safety and effectiveness of surgical treatments for TMJ disorders. Nor are there standards to identify people who would most likely benefit from surgery. X-Plain Temporomandibular Joint Disorders, Reference Summary

Acupuncture in the Treatment of Dental Pain — Including TMJ/TMD

There have been a number of studies measuring the efficacy of acupuncture in treating dental pain. One review evaluated 15 studies, each of which had a reference group, randomization, blinding, appropriate statistics and sufficient follow-up. The Use of Acupuncture in Dentistry: a Systematic Review, P. Roosted, MD, The Medical Acupuncture Webpage.

Of the 15 studies reviewed, 11 found acupuncture to be effective. Of these, 7 involved acupuncture analgesia, 4 involved the treatment of facial pain and TMJ. The author noted that 11 of the fifteen studies showed acupuncture to be more effective than placebo, non-standard (sham) acupuncture, or that it was able to produce better or similar results to an accepted treatment procedure. Roosted at 1. The Review concluded that “acupuncture . . . should be considered as a reasonable alternative or supplement to current dental practice in these areas (TMJ and analgesia). Id. at 1.

Another systematic review reached a similar conclusion noting “the trial data suggests that acupuncture is a useful symptomatic treatment of TMJD.” This review also recommends further study to determine whether acupuncture has any specific effects.
Ernst E., White AR, Acupuncture as a Treatment for Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction, A Systematic Review of Randomized Trials. (1999) Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 125:269-272.

While acupuncture is not the solution for all TMJ cases, it is an effective treatment option for many patients and I encourage you to consider it. For further information or to make an appointment, please contact Elizabeth at+1 917-968-2854. Let us serve as your NYC Acupuncture TMJ provider.