An introduction to the practical application of acupuncture in dentistry is presented in the light of current research. It is concluded that acupuncture could supplement conventional treatment modalities. Its value in the treatment of temporomandibular dysfunction syndrome and facial pain has been well documented and supported by randomised controlled trials. Although it may be useful in the control of post-operative pain, its use as sole analgesia for operative care is questionable. The mode of action of acupuncture can be explained with reference to modern neurophysiology. A short training course can allow the technique to be an effective tool in every dentist's hands.