The effectiveness of acupuncture in treating acute dental pain: a systematic review

Br Dent J. 1998 May 9;184(9):443-7. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.4809654.


Objective: Acupuncture is frequently advocated as an effective treatment of dental pain. The question whether or not it is effective for this indication remains controversial. The aim of this systematic review therefore was to assess the effectiveness of acupuncture in dental pain.

Data sources: Four electronic databases were searched: Medline, Embase, CISCOM, and the Cochrane Library. Only controlled trials were included in this review.

Data extraction: Information was extracted from included studies and entered on standard forms independently by both authors. Methodological quality was assessed using the Jadad score.

Main results: 16 such studies were located. The majority of these trials imply that acupuncture is effective in dental analgesia. However, important questions remain unanswered.

Conclusion: It is concluded that acupuncture can alleviate dental pain and that future investigations should define the optimal acupuncture technique and its relative efficacy compared with conventional methods of analgesia.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Analgesia*
  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bias
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Databases as Topic
  • Electroacupuncture
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Threshold
  • Pain, Postoperative / therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Tooth / surgery*
  • Toothache / therapy*