Proponents of Eastern Medicine, particularly Chinese Medicine, may not specifically suggest that patients suffering from tooth infections avoid getting care from a licensed dentist, but they don’t always recommend it either.

Traditional Chinese Medicine is more likely to encourage patients to change their diet, incorporating herbs that treat “heat” and “wind” in the stomach that may be attacking the gums or teeth, and/or acupuncture as a means of treating the pain associated with a tooth infection.

As many legitimate Western doctors, dentists, and endodontists will tell you, there is little evidence to suggest that Chinese Medicine can effectively treat a tooth infection and there are serious risks to avoiding treatment like a root canal or tooth extraction. Any claims that tooth infections were cured by common Chinese Medicine techniques deserve a healthy dose of skepticism.

For instance, there are several studies that have shown the efficacy of the placebo effect – that is, we may perceive ourselves to be healthier than we really are when we believe our treatment is working, whether or not it really is. Echinacea, for example, is an herb believed by some to help cure or prevent the common cold. The evidence supporting this is weak and generally the scientific community does not consider it valid but that hasn’t stopped many people from using Echinacea to treat their colds. It is even likely that many people do in fact feel better after taking Echinacea simply because they believe it works.

In the case of a common cold, the virus and its symptoms will clear up given enough time. This is not typically the case of a tooth infection, which will usually worsen over time and can spread to other teeth or other parts of the body. While Chinese Medicine and other treatments that rely on the placebo effect to provide value to patients may be minimally effective at treating the pain caused by a tooth infection, it is critical to see a professional dentist as early as possible. Failure to do so can unnecessarily risk allowing the infection to spread and cause more damage.

If you’re in the Richmond, VA area and you would like to speak to a root canal specialist, contact our office today!

About the Author

Dr. Harris has been a practicing dentist since 2005. In 2012, he received his Master’s of Science in Dentistry and a certificate in Endodontics. He founded East Coast Endodontics shortly after receiving his master’s degree. He also currently holds a part-time position as a Clinical Assistant Professor for the Endodontics department at Virginia Commonwealth University. View his full bio.