Friday 9th April 2021
At approximately 6.45 pm, an unfortunate incident occurred. Let me set the scene. It was the end of the week, I was looking forward to a full college weekend on Zoom, had enjoyed a purposefully relaxed afternoon in preparation, and arranged an easy evening meal of leftover pasta bake for myself and my 22 year old daughter. Now what I didn’t take into account is that reheating pasta with a rustic breadcrumb topping, rendered said breadcrumbs as hard as, well as hard as something on which you could break your tooth…
I have to admit at first, I didn’t realise what had transpired. On reflection, I vaguely recalled biting down on something solid, when taste testing an escaped crumb while serving up.
This thought returned to me later as we ate, with the realisation that something felt wrong, but when I still assumed, indeed hoped, that maybe I had a bit of food stuck between my teeth. I fiddled around with it with my tongue, and a finger in my mouth, in between continuing to eat, as it is a known fact amongst students that you have to keep your strength up for college. At this point I was feeling distinct symptoms of shock; being sweaty, anxious, frozen to the chair, pretending there was nothing wrong, in a typical fright, freeze, but not quite flight scenario. I was torn between denial and gaining clarification of the situation, whilst simultaneously not wanting to alert my daughter to the fact I was so anxious over a tooth. Eventually however, I decided I ought to get up and look in a mirror.
Well how many of you know exactly what the inside of your mouth looks like? I hummed and hahed and couldn’t decide whether I could see any change, denial winning here, but eventually coming down on the side of reason and voicing my thoughts aloud “I think I’ve broken my tooth!” A corner of a molar in my lower jaw had come away. There was never any sign of the broken fragment, I can only assume I had swallowed it at the time!
Just acknowledging this to myself, was a helpful strategy in calming my anxiety. I thought I know what to do, I will take some arnica for the shock, and the physical trauma to my tooth.
ARNICA MONTANA (Mountain Tobacco)
Affinity for NERVES
Arnica helps the person who feels worse for injuries and traumatic incidents, for cold, and at night.
The mental and emotional state is one of shock.
There is fear of the pain, when feeling pain, and also fear of the pain becoming unendurable.
The picture of this remedy matches the individual who is worried about going to the dentist, and a symptom specific to watch for is that tooth pain feels better for stooping.
I hadn’t cause to notice this last symptom at the time, but it could be a useful one for differentiating in the future.
Arnica worked well, and for the rest of the evening I could sit with my daughter and watch a film. The immediate shock was over.
I also sent a message to my homeopath who replied with two remedies for me, Emerald and Staphysagria. My good friend from college also suggested Emerald, and as, serendipitously, one of our college tutors had recently mentioned Emerald in relation to dental problems I was interested to research this remedy a little more deeply.
STAPHYSAGRIA (Delphinium staphysagria)
The symptoms which fit the remedy Staphysagria are those of dental decay with teeth which crumble on the edges.
Pain is noticed to be worse when brushing teeth, after dental work, and in nursing mothers.
Emotionally a person needing staphysagria will be sensitive to external impressions, fear losing self control and be timid and skilled at avoiding uncomfortable situations. They may have a history of abuse and of suppressing their emotions.
Colin Griffiths says one of its keynote effects is to reduce pain and complications during and after surgical extractions, and for toothache.
This remedy is useful in any situation where there is exhaustion and debility due to an overtaxed nervous system.
Is the first remedy to consider for those who are to have anything extracted: teeth, appendix, gallbladder etc. Emerald encourages the body to let go of the offending or diseased part without storing the memory of trauma to the surrounding tissue.
It is also useful to relieve emotional distress after general anaesthetics.
I decided not to use Emerald straight away but to keep it in reserve, mostly as I could only find a few pillules of 200 potency, and because I thought my need of it might be greater when time for dental treatment arrived.
Staphysagria worked well to calm my sense of injustice over the whole broken tooth situation. It also suited my overall state at the time.
I felt unjustly served after I had tried hard to get studies and jobs out of the way to allow time to relax before college, in order that I could be alert and do my best. It also suited me particularly at this time as I had been coping with recent injustices due to Lockdown and Covid-19 restrictions at work. I have felt isolated and discriminated against for my stance. With the clarity of hindsight this was a final straw on the camel’s back state. It is no wonder that I felt so much better in myself from a dose of Staphysagria.
However I could by now feel the odd sharp twinge, presumably from all my fiddling in the vicinity of the offending tooth, which also happened to have an extensive filling from years ago. I was concerned that nerves were exposed. My immediate thought was Hypericum and indeed I took a dose of this at 30c and it calmed the sensitivity, which was noticeable as a sudden pain from cold air when inhaling, and also from cold water. This was not a constant pain, rather an occasional one, but always startling me.
HYPERICUM (St John’s Wort)
A person needing Hypericum may be in shock from an injury with penetrating wounds, pain shooting up the nerves, with crawling and numbness. The pain will be worse for cold and specifically cold air. These pains appear suddenly and disappear suddenly, or appear suddenly and disappear gradually.
I took Hypericum 30c a couple of times a day for the next few days and the sensitivity seemed to wear off. However I was also avoiding chewing on the affected side and cleaning my teeth very gingerly, in case of twinges.
I have felt some numbness in my lower lip on the affected side from time to time, similar to the effect when local anaesthetic is wearing off after dental treatment, this fits the Hypericum picture.
Unsurprisingly the situation which had calmed during the evening came back to haunt me in the night. I am not historically a fan of the dentist and this was keeping me awake. I failed at considering remedies for getting to sleep from thoughts and worries, resulting in seeing many hours through the night, but in hindsight I could have used one of the following:
ARGENTUM NITRICUM (Silver nitrate)
This remedy has an affinity for the Mind and Nerves.
This person will be worse for emotions such as anxiety and suspense, particularly in the area of their health. Their ailments will arise from anticipation of an event in the future, such a dental appointment.
COCCULUS (Indian cockle)
Cocculus is a known remedy for individuals who have lost sleep from caring for others during the night. This makes them feel unwell, and they will feel worse for anxiety and cold.
COFFEA (Coffee Arabica)
Coffea has an affinity for troubles of the mind and nerves. People requiring this remedy are worse for feeling frightened, or other sudden emotions, and worse at night.
They have an oversensitivity to pain, and to cold air. All senses are heightened.
Sleeplessness which stems from anxiety.
A particular symptom of Cocculus is that toothache is better for holding cold water in mouth, however I did not have this symptom.
GELSEMIUM SEMPERVIRENS (False Jasmine)
The picture of Gelsemium is one of emotional apprehension, anticipation, shock and a dread of ordeals. The person needing this remedy will feel worse in these situations. They will also feel worse for thinking about their ailments, and for anything to do with dentition.
Saturday 10th April
Saturday dawned, and I was tired and shaky after a disturbed night. I was still feeling a little sorry for myself I have to admit, and had to let my fellow students know. Obviously being budding homeopaths themselves they were all kindness and empathy which helped me out. One of them had worked in a dental practice in a previous life and offered practical advice about what I might expect in the way of treatment, I was not sure at the time if this was the right thing for me to hear in my sensitive state, but it came from a good heart and I was grateful for the thought.
I had wondered if I would be able to talk easily enough to manage patients in clinic, this was my anticipatory anxiety rebooting, but with another dose of Staphysagria and Hypericum I forgot about my predicament to some extent and could focus.
I repeated Hypericum at lunchtime and later in the day as tooth sensitivity reared its head again. At this point it was the most useful remedy for me.
Luckily by bedtime on Saturday I was exhausted in a positive way and able to sleep much better, also I am sure also due to the calming impact of the remedies I had taken. I woke the following day feeling restored to some extent and able to face the day’s lectures.
Monday 12th April
Starting the day on Monday I knew my main task was to find a dentist to repair my tooth. I had decided over the weekend that I wasn’t in such great need that I should telephone the emergency dentist, and with Hypericum having worked well to subdue the nerve sensitivity, and a new ability to eat on one side of my mouth, I realised I could take a little time to find the right dental practice for me.
My first port of call was the British Dental Homeopathy Association helpline and the person on the other end of the phone, after telling me there are only 52 homeopathic dentists on their list in the whole country, read out the names of the two nearest to where I live in South Shropshire. By mid-afternoon I had an appointment booked with Mr Peter Darby, a mere 40 minutes’ drive from home. Unfortunately the first slot they had was 11 days ahead, but by this time I was feeling much more confident about working around the defective molar whilst eating and cleaning my teeth, and with a fair wind thought I might make it to the date without further damage to my tooth.
I am a big fan of the tissue salts derived by Dr Schuessler in the mid 19th century and have added these as a supportive layer in several of my cases this year. I decided to revise what I knew from our excellent teaching by college tutors Tony Hurley and Jacki Becker, and in addition consult my tissue salt books.
Calc Fluor and Calc Phos came up as the two salts relevant to my situation. I have been taking both twice a day from the first Monday and trust they are promoting the overall health and strength of my teeth.
CALC FLUOR is relevant for:
Enamel of the teeth which is rough and deficient
Unnatural looseness of the teeth with or without pain
Teeth which become loose in their sockets
Malnutrition of the teeth
Toothache with pain if any food touches the tooth
Toothache with a looseness of the teeth
Dry mouth, with much dental decay
Sensitivity to heat and cold
CALC PHOS for:
Teeth which develop slowly, and complaints during teething
Too rapid decay of teeth
Convulsions in teething after taking Mag Phos
Toothache with a tearing, boring pain, which is worse at night
Gums painful and inflamed, or pale gums
Coincidentally, or serendipitously, these two tissue salts are the ones linked to my time of birth, on the wheel of tissue salts. Having matched the salts symptomatically at first, it gave extra weight to the thought of using these from now on as a strengthening protocol for my teeth generally, and for the broken molar in particular.
It would be true to say that I have taken my eye off the regular dental check-up system, since being traumatised watching my teenage children undergo treatment by uncompromisingly pragmatic dentists. What I considered good enough brushing twice a day with non-fluoride toothpaste to avoid poison sneaking into my system, has proved not to be in this instance.
In Preparation for my appointment at the dentist I have Arnica 200c, more Hypericum, more Staphysagria, and Emerald still to use. Before I go I will take a combination remedy Aconite/Arg nit/Arsenicum album in the hope of preventing extensive bruising and soreness after the event. I will have Staphysagria in my bag to take after I come out, if necessary, before driving home.
Thursday 22nd April
So the day of my appointment dawned, and off I drove to Wolverhampton to find my holistic dentist.
This was a revelatory dental experience. Met by Peter Darby, a well qualified dentist, with decades of experience in dental homeopathy in addition to acupuncture. He has previously been Dental Dean at the Faculty of Homeopathy. His manner was quiet, calm and imbued confidence. He asked me what I had come for, also how I had come across him, and proceeded to examine my teeth gently. I was still quieter than usual and nervous, but was given time to have water when my mouth dried up, and gradually I calmed down. He had put a temporary cover on without my noticing, and then asked how I felt about x rays.
On previous visits at other dental practices x-rays are usually a no choice event. The purpose this time would be to see how deep the old fillings in my teeth are, so that he knew what to expect when he did the repair at the following appointment. I accepted the sense of this, and the x ray was explained as less invasive than the traditional. I also knew I had the remedy X ray 30c at home and would take a dose later if I felt it necessary.
He asked what sort of filling I preferred, and when I said the safest, that wasn’t a problem.
Then we talked homeopathic remedies. Asked if I had taken anything before my appointment today, I answered AAA, in the form of Helios Stress Relief combination of Aconite, Arg Nit and Arsenicum album. He advised taking Arg nit 200c the night before, and twice on the day of the next appointment, both in the morning and immediately on arrival. He also said he would give me Arnica straight after the procedure. All in all it was a very satisfactory appointment, and I felt listened to and my opinion considered in a way otherwise unknown, in similar situations. It bodes well for the future wellbeing of my teeth and my stress levels when contemplating dental treatment.
The NUTRITION element
It is amazing how much more circumspect about your choice of food you become when trying to save a tooth from total decay. I began in the first few days by eating soft easily chewable foods, porridge for breakfast and scrambled egg at lunch, that sort of thing. However I was hungry, and eventually realised I would have to attempt to eat more of my usual diet in order to feel full. Losing weight through anxiety has been an occasional tendency over the years.
Looking again in Margaret Roberts tissue salt book, there is a useful section suggesting both herbs and real food which contain the tissue salt elements.
In the section on Calc Fluor she mentions herbs garlic, parsley, sage, winter savory, chickweed, mustard, chives, buckwheat, lemon and lemon pith. Grapes, oranges, pumpkin, squash, cabbage, onions, which are full of beta carotene, and vitamins C, A, D and P ( vitamin P is in lemons and oranges and in their pith).
Herbs containing Calc Phos include comfrey, chamomile, lucerne, borage, also oats. Foodstuffs such as green leafy vegetables like lettuce, spinach and cabbage, and carrots, lentils, strawberries, mulberries, raspberries, cranberries, figs and plums. Many whole grains, yoghurt, cottage cheese, milk, eggs and grilled lean meat also contain this element.
So gradually I have returned to my normal diet, sourdough crunchy toast and all, though maybe I am toasting it a little more lightly, and definitely still eating mostly on the other side of my mouth despite the temporary covering on my molar. As the days go by, I find I occasionally forget and move food around my mouth on both sides, pulling up sharply when I become aware of what I am doing. I think it is tribute to those first two or three days of Hypericum 30c that has de sensitised the nerves which were bothering me at first.
As homeopaths we know that certain miasms or inherited tendencies can affect our health including the strength of our teeth. It is not all down to nutrition, toothpaste, brushing and check-ups, although these are obviously component parts of oral healthcare.
A syphilitic tendency to a narrow jaw, leading to crowded and easily decaying teeth, was the cause of many trips to the dentist for fillings and extractions when I was a child. These came with their own set of traumatic experiences, the general anaesthetic administered through a smelly rubber mask, considered by me, once old enough to choose, better than a local anaesthetic injection combined with wakefulness during the whole process. The taunting by a later ‘family dentist’ for being ‘a baby’ when anxious, was also part of this history which brought me to where I am today in relation to wariness around dentists and turning a convenient blind eye to regular check-ups. No wonder you might say that I ended up with a broken tooth, and no familiar regular dentist to fall back on in time of need.
The fact my Mum was a good cook, regularly making cakes, and offering visits to the corner shop to choose from the ‘penny tray’ as a treat were historic maintaining causes in their own right, as well as fairly typical of a seventies childhood.
So will I need an anti syphilitic remedy to help me beyond this layer? I will of course be visiting my homeopath to discover his thoughts.
My remaining problem for the moment is that my jaws are feeling lopsided and I think a trip to my favourite cranial osteopath may be useful after I have been treated at the dentist. Achiness from awkward eating is relieved by a dose of arnica. Fiona will rebalance my jaws and gently put my head and skeleton back into alignment, as well as offering a listening ear and an empathetic approach. This is one of our strengths as holistic practitioners.
I would heartily recommend you look up the BHDA and see if there is a homeopathic dentist in your area. From my experience, it will be worth your while, if you like to have some control over your treatment, with remedies to boot.
With my holistic team in support I anticipate calm progress to improved oral health.
Griffiths C. (2007) The New Materia Medica Watkins Publishing
Murphy R. ( 2018) MetaRepertory Lotus Health Institute
Murphy R ( 2006 ) Nature’s Materia Medica Lotus Health Institute
Vermelen F. (2002) Prisma Emryss
Boericke W. and Dewey W.A. (2003) Schuessler’s Twelve Tissue Remedies Homoeopathic Book Service
Roberts, M (2008) Tissue salts for Healthy Living Penguin Random House
http://www.bhda.co.uk/ British Homeopathic Dental Association