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Fifty-one volunteer patients participated in a study to evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture as an analgesic for operative dentistry. For the twenty-six patients randomly assigned to an acupuncture group, needles were inserted through specially designed holders into the Ho-Ku points, located between the first and second metacarpals. An acupuncture pulse generator provided electrical current. For the twenty-five patients in a placebo group, the identical needle and holder arrangement was used. When inserted, however, the needles became embedded in plastic on the undersurface of the holders and did not touch the skin of the patient or receive any electrical stimulation. The patients and dentists were blind to this procedural variation. Analysis of ratings and responses indicated no differences in findings for the acupuncture and placebo procedures, with both having 100 percent success and high levels of patient acceptance. Since there was no electric current or penetration of the skin in the placebo group, the findings suggest that the successful use of acupuncture for restorative dentistry may be due to psychological and/or placebo effects in combination with a possible diminished need for analgesia because of the modern use of the high-speed drill.
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☆This research was supported by the Medical Research Service of the Veterans Administration.
© 1979 Published by Elsevier Inc.