While acupuncture therapy may not eliminate the cause of TMD resulting from structural anomalies, such as degenerative changes and disc displacement, acupuncture can help relieve the pain and discomfort associated with the conditions. It has been documented that acupuncture can help muscle relaxation and reduce muscle spasms, if the spasms are muscular in origin.15 Acupuncture can also help minimize TMJ “clicking” by relaxing the lateral pterygoid muscles, and thereby reducing the anterior displacing force on the meniscus of the TMJ. Wong LB. Acupuncture in dentistry: a systematic review. Proc Singapore Healthcare. 2012;21(1):432-448.
Modern research has revealed scientific reasons why acupuncture is a successful therapy. In the 1970s, reports appeared in Western medical literature suggesting that acupuncture reduces pain sensation through direct stimulation of the nerve, which changes the quality of signaling along nerve cells. In fact, research suggests that acupuncture may suppress the nociceptive trigeminal nucleus caudalis and spinal dorsal horn neurons via modulation of the release of neuropeptides and neurotransmitters. Sheng LL, Nishiyama K, Honda T, et.al. Suppressive effects of Neiting acupuncture on toothache: an experimental analysis on Fos expression evoked by tooth pulp stimulation in the trigeminal subnucleus pars caudalis and [...]