When you’re suffering from a toothache, you can’t always get to a dentist immediately. If it’s the middle of the night, or you just need to last another couple of hours until you can make it to your dentist’s office, hand reflexology can help. This modern version of acupressure massage takes advantage of a reflex connection between key areas of the hand and the rest of your body to help minimize pain wherever it arises. Reflexology is not a replacement for conventional dental care.
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Like other forms of holistic healing, reflexology works according to the idea that the body naturally tends to heal itself, according to Taking Charge of Your Health, part of the University of Minnesota website. Reflexologists view pain as a result of the complex interaction between mind, body and emotions. According to this philosophy, pain becomes less intense when you are able to relax. Reflexology probably won’t cure your toothache, but by stimulating circulation and inducing relaxation, it might help you experience your pain differently.
Hand reflexology is a type of distal therapy — in other words, it works one body part to treat a problem at a distant location. This concept comes in handy when you are dealing with a condition like toothache, where it is not practical or possible to apply massage directly to the area of inflammation or injury, notes John Cross, acupuncturist and founder of the John Cross Clinics in the Isle of Skye, UK and author of “Acupressure: Clinical Applications in Musculo-Skeletal Conditions.”
Reflexology maps trace the image of the entire body, including limbs, internal organs and glands, onto the hands and feet. The center of the back of each hand represents the upper back, according to the interactive reflexology hand map located on the website of Dorling Kindersley Books. The liver zone stretches across the palm of the right hand, while the sides of thumbs represent the spinal column. For any issues to do with the jaw, gums or teeth, a hand reflexologist will focus on the backs of the fingers of each hand, in the area where you would wear a ring.
Points to Target
To perform reflexology for toothache, you’ll want to stimulate and massage the backs of each of your fingers. The Whysong hand reflexology method, founded by Helen Whysong, a reflexology master in Phoenix, Arizona, and author of “Whysong Method — Hand Reflexology,” recommends using the traditional acupressure point Large Intestine 4, also called the “Drainer of the Dredges,” to treat toothache. Find LI4 in the webbing between your thumb and index finger. Press against the joint between the thumb and forefinger to stimulate the point.
Touching the point or zone on the hand that he wants to manipulate, a reflexologist will apply a firm but gentle pressure for a moment, followed by a moment of rest. Without removing his thumb or finger from the skin, he uses a smooth, natural, easy rhythm to work on the area until the patient experiences symptomatic relief or achieves some degree of relaxation. This technique has a profound effect on the parasympathetic nervous system, which governs rest and recovery, according to Vicki Pitman, reflexologist and holistic healer in Bradford on Avon, UK, co-author of “Reflexology: A Practical Approach.”
- University of Minnesota: How Does Reflexology Work?
- “Acupressure: Clinical Applications in Musculo-Skeletal Conditions”; John R. Cross; 2000
- Dorling Kindersley Books: Reflexology Hand Map
- “Whysong Method — Hand Reflexology”; Helen Whysong; 2007
- “Reflexology: A Practical Approach”; Vicki Pitman and Kay MacKenzie; 2002