The Teeth Are Part of the Body: A Case of Acute Dental Pain
Homeopathy treats people, not diagnoses. One of the unique features of our healing science and art is the our medicines address concerns of the whole person, mental, emotional, and physical, including the mouth. Homeopathy can be remarkably effective for acute, as well as chronic, dental issues. We urge readers to consider homeopathy as your first intervention prior to pharmaceutical drugs, surgery, or other more invasive and complex dental treatments.
We include first, the acute dental case of a patient whom we have been working with for thirteen years. Then we discuss other acute dental conditions and their homeopathic treatment as well as providing some information on medicines to consider for chronic dental issues.
Karen, fifty years old, called us in November, 2010 We have treated her constitutionally, very successfully, for eczema and anxiety with Magnesium carbonicum (published in the Spring or Summer Townsend Letter issue of 2009). “I have tooth pain on the left side. It’s been excruciating the past two days. I can’t sleep. I can’t stand it. I just want to rip my tooth out! It started as a low-grade aching. I went to the dentist last Friday, The X-ray was normal. She couldn’t find an abscess. Her only recommendation was to use Sensidyn toothpaste.”
“The pain is piercing. Like somebody is poking or driving a needle into my gum. It throbs. Or aches really intensely. Sometimes it goes away for a while, but then it comes back full force. It was horrible this afternoon. Cold water relieves the pain for a few minutes, then the throbbing returns. The dentist told me it was possibly sinus pain. The entire left side of my face is painful. My ears are plugged and ringing like crazy.”
“ The mouth pain is worse from laying down and the throbbing is much worse in the evening. I have been taking Ibuprofen. My ears itchy way down, deep inside. The mouth pain is only on the left side, never the right. If I could just bite down really hard and hold it. Or keep my mouth closed very tightly all the time.”
It is definitely dental pain. It doesn’t hurt when I bite down, but has been aggravated and inflamed since I ate a salad for lunch. The pain wakes me at night. I need to keep my head elevated. There is some improvement when I lay flat. It makes my ears feel closed. I have felt much more irritable than usually and weepy, which is not typical for me.
We based Karen’s acute prescription on the following symptoms:
- Pain, molars, bicuspids, left
- Teeth, pain, intolerable
- Sleeplessness from pain in the teeth
- Teeth, pain, piercing
- Teeth pain, pulsating, throbbing
- Teeth pain, cold drinks ameliorate
- Teeth pain, worse lying
- Teeth pain, evening
- Weeping with pain
We prescribed Chamomilla (which happens to be the most common medicine for severe teething complaints in angry, screaming babies). Had Karen come into our office, we would have prescribed one dose of a 1M potency, due to the intensity of the pain. However, she lives out of state and, fortunately, had our self-care kit available, so we recommended that she take a 30C potency as often as needed. We did send a dose of the medicine in a 1M potency, in case the 30C was not strong enough. Chamomilla (chamomile) covered ever one of Karen’s symptoms and is a member of the Compositae family, along with Arnica. Characteristics of this family are an intense feeling of injury, and patients needing these medicines use many different words involving hurt, pain, injury–Karen’s case: excruciating, rip, piercing, poking, driving a needle, throbs, aches, inflamed.” This is a tremendous number of words describing pain for a case of acute dental pain. Chamomilla belongs to the typhoid miasm, with an intensity between acute (life or death) or psora (struggle), whose features are an intense, short, do-or-die effort alternating with collapse.
Karen emailed us the next day reporting that her teeth felt better. She had taken four doses the previous evening, and had been able to sleep without being awakened from dental pain. The following day she contacted us again to assure us that she was feeling better. Karen did take two doses of the Chamomilla 1M. We spoke with her next a month later and her tooth was fine. She did not need any other conventional or homeopathic medicine nor another dental appointment.
Common Homeopathic Medicines for Acute Dental Pain
- Chamomilla (Chamomile): Violent toothache. Tremendous hypersensitivity to pain. Inconsolable with the pain. Toothache is worse from drinking coffee or warm drinks and relieved by cold beverages. The pain is worse at night. A keynote of those needing Chamomilla is tremendous irritability, complaining, and inability to be pleased. In teething children, this anger may escalate to the point of striking or biting.
- Coffea (coffee): Like Chamomilla, extreme hypersensitivity to pain, but also to emotions and stimuli of any kind. Extreme sensitivity and excitability. Toothache is relieved by holding cold water in the mouth, and becomes worse again as the water becomes warm. Highly active body and mind. Symptoms are worse from noise, touch, and emotions, and better from sleep or from lying down.
- Hepar sulphuris (calcium sulfide): Toothaches due to dental abscesses. Again, extreme hypersensitivity to pain. These individuals tend to be very chilly and the toothache is much worse from the least draft. The mouth may smell like old cheese, though we have seen this more in the homeopathic literature than clinically. The person is very irritable, snappy, and complaining. Swelling and inflammation of the gums, which are exquisitely painful when touched. The gums and mouth may bleed easily. The symptoms are considerably aggravated by exposure to cold or to touch and better from warmth. The characteristic desire for vinegar may also be present.
- Mercurius (mercury): Tearing, shooting, or throbbing pain in decayed teeth or roots of teeth. Dental pain may extend to the ears and the cheek. Tooth pain is typically worse at night, and from eating or drinking anything either hot or cold. Classically the breath is bad, tongue coated, and there is foul-smelling perspiration. Excessive salivation and a metallic taste in the mouth are also common. There may be a desire for bread and butter and the individual may feel mistrustful, guarded, or hesitant.
- Plantago (plantain): Toothache worse on the left side of the face. Piercing, digging, violent dental pain. The teeth feel sore and sensitive and the pain may shoot up into the face. Unbearable, severe toothache worse from touch or extremes of hot and cold. As with Mercurius, there may be profuse salivation. Grinding of the teeth at night may be present. The individual may feel confused. The pain may be worse during the night or in a warm room and relieved by sleep.
- Silica (flint): This is a commonly-prescribed medicine for dental abscesses, as well as for abscesses, cysts, or boils anywhere in the body. The pain tends to have a slower onset and be less severe than with the medicines described above. Useful for acute exacerbations of chronic dental problems. The person may also have swollen cervical or submandibular lymph nodes, brittle nails, and offensive perspiration, sometimes associated with performance anxiety.
We have seen many other cases of dental complaints alleviated with homeopathy. Acute dental pain is one of those situations where you have very little to lose, except a bit of time, and much to gain from our medicine.