Meridian Tooth Charts Signify Poor Judgment
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
Many offbeat practitioners claim to diagnose conditions throughout the body by examining some body part. For example, iridologists examine the eyes, reflexologists examine and massage the feet, auriculotherapists examine the ears, and chiropractors examine the spine. Each these approaches involves alleged anatomical connections that cannot be scientifically demonstrated; and most purport to treat by improving the flow of nonmaterial energy that they postulate as an underlying cause of disease.
This article concerns "meridian tooth charts" that depict alleged relationships between the teeth and other parts of the body. Most users of these charts are "holistic" dentists, but some naturopaths and medical doctors are also involved. The dentists who use them typically make false diagnoses, remove teeth and/or amalgam fillings unnecessarily, and prescribe irrational products. In November 2014, a Google Image search for "meridian tooth chart" yielded more than 50 different charts. Here are a few examples.
The late Roy Kupsinel, M.D., of Oviedo, Florida, who used the colorful graphic (A) shown below, claimed that "each tooth is related to an acupuncture meridian that in turn is related to various organs, tissues and glands in the body on this particular meridian. Thus, a problem with disease in or about a tooth may reflect with a problem elsewhere. An example: Tooth # 19 is related to L-4/L-5, the low back or lumbar vertebrae." As evidence of this relationship, Kupsinel claimed that he had a root canal done in tooth #19 as a teenager and a ruptured disc at L-4/L-5 in his 60s.
Chart B relates each of the teeth to various organs and/or regions of the body. Curiously, eight of its 80 boxes are said to be related to the back of the knee.
Many sites contain interactive charts that show a schematic picture that, when clicked, reveals supposed relationships between the tooth and various organs, regions, and systems of the body.
The chart to the right is said to have been developed by Thomas Rau, M.D., of the Paracelsus Clinic (Switzerland) and based on work by Dr. Reinhard Voll and others. It provides abundant details about alleged relationships between teeth, glands, the spine, and meridians. It claims, for example, that tooth #12 (a premolar) is related to "eye diseases, ablaio retinae, agryponia, vegetative dystonia, schizophrenic aspects, dysthyreosis, ocular fundus diseases, mental varieties, cell respiration, fermentation, enzymatics, liver-stomach-pancreas, dyspepsia & dysbiosis, maxillary sinus," whereas tooth 21 (the corresponding molar on the other side of the mouth) is related to "the spleen (pancreas), meteroism, vein marks on skin, connective tissue disease, cell respiration, fermentation, enzymatics, liver-stomach-pancreas, dyspepsia & dysbiosis, mammary glands." But according to a footnote below the chart, "These empirical correlations are not absolute! Moreover, any dental focus can potentially spread anywhere.
This chart, which is similar but less detailed than the one above, was posted by a naturopath who sold "homeopathic hormone rejuvenation kits." According to the naturopath: "There is an endocrine relationship to teeth, therefore, we must develop conscious awareness of our dental health. Endocrine and other health issues can be caused by the following conditions: root canals, crowns, incompatible dental materials and cements, periodontal health, mercury (silver) fillings, dis-similar metals, abscess, cavitations, TMJ problems and more."
The Bottom Line
Meridians are imaginary pathways through which "life energy" or "qi" is claimed to flow. They are part of the traditional Chinese medicine belief system and have no basis in reality. Meridian tooth charts are not related to the knowledge of anatomy, physiology, health, and disease that its widely accepted by the scientific community. Moreover, what "corresponds" with specific teeth differs greatly from one chart to another.
The bottom line is that you should not trust any practitioner who uses a meridian tooth chart. If you encounter such a person, please ask your state attorney general and/or the relevant licensing board to investigate.
This article was revised on November 23, 2014.