Last year I was asked to speak at a monthly meeting of the local Dental Society. I decided to talk about TMJ because it is a condition that our two professions can co-treat very effectively. I had been told that very few of the members knew much about acupuncture, so I wanted to give some background on Chinese Medicine that would hopefully give some credibility to my explanation of using acupuncture points on the foot to treat jaw pain. I wanted to talk about the many micro-systems of acupuncture that are based on the knowledge that the body can be viewed as a hologram. That is, one part of the body represents the whole body.
First I showed them the model of the ear and talked about auricular acupuncture. I explained that the body is mapped on the ear by superimposing the image of the fetus. Newcomers to Chinese Medicine theory are almost always amazed when I ask them to picture the baby inverted in the womb on the ear. Once you see it (head on the ear lobe, back curled along the outer edge of the ear) it is hard to believe that you hadn’t noticed it before! Then I briefly touched on Korean Hand Acupuncture where all of the meridian acupuncture points are mapped on the hand. I talked about foot reflexology, iridology, and Dr. Tan’s Balance Method acupuncture. I did all of this because I wanted to lay the groundwork to tell them that the whole body is also mapped on the teeth.
There is a great acupuncture chart available from AcupunctureProducts.com â€“ â€œAcupuncture Meridian Relationships Between Teeth and Body Organsâ€. There is a wealth of information on this chart. Each tooth has a correspondence to an acupuncture meridian. There is also a tooth organ relationship and a tooth muscle relationship. This chart also relates each tooth to specific joints, vertebrae, endocrine glands and sense organs. Chinese Medicine believes that a weakness in a particular part of the body can weaken the associated tooth and vice versa. A decayed tooth can have a systemic effect on the body.
After my talk, one of the oral surgeons pulled me aside and thanked me for discussing this topic. He told me of a woman patient that he had twelve years earlier. He performed a dental procedure on her in an area of her mouth where she had previously had dental work done. When he got into the procedure, he had to correct an issue with the tooth that he had not expected to see (I think he said that a root had regrown, but I’m not sure if I am remembering that exactly as he said it). The next day he called her to see how she was recovering. She was very excited and said, â€œDoc, I feel great. No problems with the tooth, and my knee feels great!â€ He laughed and told her that he was glad her mouth was doing well. She said, â€œNo, really, my knee doesn’t hurt. I am scheduled for knee replacement surgery next month and my knee doesn’t hurt!â€
I asked if he remembered which tooth it was. He did. We looked at the chart and saw that the tooth in question was related to the Stomach meridian which passes thru the front of the knee. That woman never had a knee replacement!
I myself had a patient a few years ago who came to me for acupuncture in the hopes of relieving a multitude of mysterious symptoms. She had seen over forty specialists in the year prior to coming to my office. No one could explain her intense pain and digestive issues. She had been to another acupuncturist with no relief, but with nowhere else to turn she had been convinced to try it again. In the course of taking her medical history, I noticed that all of her symptoms correlated with the Stomach and Large Intestine, or yangming meridians. Towards the end of our conversation, she started to cry and said that her luck all started to change when she had had a root canal that had gone wrong.
For decades there has been discussion on the toxic repercussions of root canals. I ordered a book for her to read co-authored by Dr. Robert Kulacz and Dr. Thomas Levy, â€œThe Roots of Disease Connecting Dentistry & Medicineâ€. In this book they talk about the toxic shock type syndrome that can occur in some patients following root canal procedures. The book includes many patient testimonials detailing chronic mysterious pain and how they linked their conditions back to dental work. I asked her to read the book and decide for herself whether or not she wanted to pursue the possibility that all of her health issues related to her dental experience.
In reference to acupuncture meridian relationships with teeth, the authors of this book agree that â€œa high degree of clinically practical correlation with these meridian links does appear to existâ€. I now ask all of my patients, especially when western medicine cannot diagnose their condition, whether or not they have had root canals or any other extensive dental work prior to the onset of their symptoms.
About the Author:
Joyce Marley is a licensed acupuncturist who provides acupuncture therapy in New Hartford, NY. She writes Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) health articles about acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.