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Tale of My Root Canal

by Dr Angela Jones(more info)

listed in dentistry, originally published in issue 74 - March 2002

This column is going to be rather a personal story – the tale of my root canal. Quite recently, and completely out of the blue, I developed a horrendous dental abscess. By the time that I arrived in the dentist's chair, I had a huge gum boil with the appropriate amount of accompanying pain.

My dentist diagnosed an infected root canal communicating with a large pocket in the gum and prescribed a course of drilling, washing out and temporary dressings to clear the infection.

"Can I try homeopathy?" I asked. "By all means," he replied. "It will not clear the root canal but it may help your gum to heal." Thus encouraged, I submitted to the drill and then went off to consult my homeopathic repertory.

The first thing I took when I arrived home was Arnica 30c. That trusty homeopathic warhorse is brilliant to fend off swelling and pain after dental procedures as it has a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-bruising effect. The trick, as always, is to take the remedy as often as is required to fend off the symptoms. In my case, it was every ten minutes initially, spacing out to twice hourly and then hourly by the evening.

The following day, I was left with a swollen gum, discharging pus next to the affected tooth every couple of hours. The tooth felt sensitive and slightly loose in its socket – a worrying sign. I did not feel particularly unwell, however, suggesting that my body was mounting a reasonable response and was keeping the infection well localized. As the gum problem was clearly a major factor, I decided to try Mercurius solubilis.

Another option would have been Belladonna, where the gum is red and shiny with a sudden onset but before pus has formed. I was clearly too late for Belladonna. Alternatively, Hepar sulphuris calcareum (Hepar sulph) could be considered. However, with this remedy, the pus may be forming but not yet discharging. I felt that I had also missed the Hepar sulph stage. The remedy for abscesses par excellence is Pyrogen. However, with Pyrogen, there is usually a significant indication of systemic illness – fever or pulse elevated.

In my case, I was too well for Pyrogen. Another option would have been Apis mellifica, the honey bee sting. However, this remedy is associated with substantial swelling of the face and mouth, like a sting. Luckily, I had avoided this complication.

So, Mercurius solubilis 30c was the choice. I took one tablet every 12 hours for two days. By the end of this time, there was a huge improvement in the state of my mouth. The tooth was far less sensitive and I could bite on the affected side without discomfort.

Far less pus was collecting in the gum with a discharge only once or twice a day. I stopped the remedy, and settled back to watch and wait.

Over the next few days, I had one small recurrence of pain, and took another single Mercurius solubilis tablet straight away. Apart from that, I had no further troubles and returned to the dentist the next week, much encouraged. The dentist was quite surprised at the improvement I had made. He had been pretty pessimistic about my chances of keeping the tooth without specialist treatment. On his examination, he found that the infected pocket in the gum was about half of its previous depth. Furthermore, the roots were all clear of infection. He went so far as to recommend that I continued whatever treatment I had used, as it was doing well.

So, I repeated the Arnica and Mercurius solubilis after the treatment. It was a mark of the improvement that I only needed two Arnica tablets and one Mercurius solubilis. Two weeks later, I went on to have a successful root filling with no need for antibiotics. My gums are in better condition than for years – although this may also be attributable to the fact that I have bought a new all-singing, all-dancing electric toothbrush!

Homeopathy and Other Dental Conditions

There are a great many other dental conditions that can be treated homeopathically. Many an exhausted mother of a screaming infant has had her sanity saved by Chamomilla, which has an almost magical effect on the frantic pain of teething, characterized by high-pitched, angry cries and one red cheek. Older patient with various types of tooth and facial pain have found relief from the correctly selected remedy. A large factor in dental health, as in all other health, is to do with general well-being and the ability to fight infection and external factors. Homeopathy excels in the field of enhancing general health and can therefore be expected to be of value in this area. Similarly, dental problems do not generally occur in isolation and there will often be a general ill health picture that needs to be addressed as a 'totality'.

A good example is treatment with Mercurius solubilis, which has a picture often, but not always, associated with old age – extreme cold sensitivity, poor tissues, weight loss, profuse staining sweats. This can be a recognizable picture in certain elderly people who also often have gum disease with loss of otherwise healthy teeth. I have also seen it used with great success in an old and much-loved pet dog, which was going to have to be put down because of its inability to eat, secondary to extensive gum disease. The dog recovered well on a short course of Mercurius solubilis and lived happily for a further year.

My dentist has no training in homeopathy, but fortunately has an understanding of where homeopathy fits into the scheme of things, and is sympathetic to the idea. There are increasing numbers of dentists who are choosing to use homeopathy actively in their practice.

They are usually trained on courses accredited by the Faculty of Homeopathy, the organization that trains statutorily-registered health professionals in the use of homeopathy within their professions. A list of homeopathic dentists can be obtained from the British Homeopathic Association on Tel 020 7566 7800 or via their website at www.trusthomeopathy.org

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About Dr Angela Jones

Dr Angela Jones works in NHS general practice and also privately, using homeopathy alongside conventional medicine. Dr Jones can be contacted via the Faculty of Homeopathy on Tel: 020-7566 7800.

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