It is often said that the mouth is the mirror of one’s own health. The manifestations which occur in the oral cavity for any systemic disease are due to its complex embryonic origin. Dentistry is one of the several areas of medicine concerned with oral mucosal lesions, which are many times an indication of underlying systemic illness. Recently there have been numerous articles about how gum disease can contribute to heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, premature births, pneumonia, etc. The statistics clearly underscore the enormously important role which good dental care plays in the health of our entire population. Over the course of the past several years, however, the established methods of treatment have been increasingly challenged and criticized. In light of these facts, growing numbers of dentists have chosen to seek a means of providing effective treatment for their patients, while simultaneously maintaining a minimum of side effects. For a great variety of dental indications, homeopathic preparations are providing such means. The use of homeopathy is helping today’s dentists give holistic care to their patients.
The German physician Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) is acknowledged to be the founder and developer of homeopathy, although some of his concepts appear early in medical history. Dissatisfied with the state of medicine at the time, which included bleeding, purging, cupping and excessive doses of mercury, he ceased his medical practice in 1782 and began translating medical and chemical texts. It was during this time that he began to seriously question the mechanisms of drug activity proposed by his contemporaries.
Hahnemann followed a tradition that viewed disease as a matter of the vital force or spirit. The concept of the vital spirit appears to be one of the earliest speculations in recorded medical history and similar forces form the proposed basis for any number of metaphysical health practices. It is an alleged nonmaterial “force” that sustains life and for which there is no objective evidence.
According to Hahnemann, “The causes of our maladies cannot be material, since the least foreign material substance, however mild it may appear to us, if introduced into our blood-vessels, is promptly ejected by the vital force”. Consistent with this philosophy is the belief that it is more important to pay attention to symptoms than to the external causes of disease. Knowing the specific symptoms of illness, treatment is then a matter of finding a substance or substances that induced the same symptoms in a healthy individual. This is the basis of Hahnemann’s “Principle of Similars.” The work of Pasteur and Koch on inoculations with very small amounts of weakened disease-causing microbes seemed to support this notion at the time.
Hahnemann and his followers went on to test the effects of almost 100 substances on themselves, a process known as “proving.” The typical procedure was for a healthy person to ingest a small amount of a particular substance and then attempt to carefully note any reaction or symptom (including emotional or mental reactions) that occurred. By this method, Hahnemann and his followers “proved” that the substance was an effective remedy for a particular symptom.
The cornerstone principle:
This is based on the principle “Similia Similibus Curentur”, which means “Like is cured by Like”. This means, that a substance, which produces symptoms in a healthy person, cures similar symptoms in a sick person. This system of medicine originally formulated by a German Physician, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, is derived from the Greek words “homoeos” = similar and “pathos” = suffering. He was drawn to the writings of Hippocrates from 400BC where Hahnemann rediscovered the basis of homoeopathy, that like cures like.
The Law of Similars states that every plant, animal or mineral substance ingested will cause a unique pattern of symptoms in a healthy individual and that the substance will be of medicinal value to a person who shows those same symptoms in ill health. For example, a person with a cold who has a burning nasal discharge and bland watery eyes might be treated with a homeopathic remedy derived from onions. It is believed that such substances will act to stimulate the body’s natural defense mechanisms and thus allow the body to heal itself.
Second principle of homeopathy: Individuality
The homeopath attempts to best match the patient’s symptoms to a remedy “symptom picture”. A “symptom picture” is different than a disease state as defined by conventional medicine; patients with the same disease state but different symptom pictures will be prescribed different remedies. A “symptom picture” is comprised of all the patients’ symptoms (physical, mental and emotional) and includes such things as food cravings, temperature preferences and personality, as well as conventional physical symptoms. Such individualized treatment of specific symptoms is fundamental in the practice of “classical” homeopathy. Some people prescribe multiple ingredient remedies or prescribe on the basis of conventional diagnosis alone. These practices are not considered homeopathy.
Third principle of homeopathy: The Minimum Dose
This refers to the use of the smallest possible dose to evoke a healing response. The use of “infinitesimal doses” is the most controversial principle of homeopathy. This principle states that the more a substance has been potentized, the more potent it is. Homeopathic remedies are derived from original substances (plant, animal or mineral) and are reduced to an “infinitesimal dose” through a pharmaceutical process known as “potentization”. This involves the preparation of a base substance (or Mother Tincture) of the original substance in a hydroalcoholic solution, successive dilutions of the mixture and succussion (vigorous pounding) of the mixture after each dilution.
Fourth principle of homeopathy: The Potentized Remedy
Homeopathic remedies, though made from natural substances such as plants, minerals, animals, etc., are manufactured unlike any other medicine.
Homoeopathic remedies are mostly derived from plants, but minerals, animal products, healthy and unhealthy tissues and secretions and other sources are also used to prepare the remedies. These are put through a special process whereby they are serially diluted and vigorously shaken. Through this process of potentisation, no chemical or physical trace of the original substance remains past the 12th decimal dilution. What remains is the energy imprint.
Homoeopathy takes into account the role of the body, mind and spirit when selecting a remedy for any disease.
TYPES OF HOMOEOPATHY
First Aid Homoeopathy
Homoeopathy is highly effective and safe for treatment of injuries such as bruising, inflammation and minor burns.
Homoeopathy is safe and effective for acute ailments such coughs, colds, influenzas and other epidemic diseases.
This type of Homoeopathy refers to the treatment of the whole person for chronic diseases, taking into account all their symptoms and characteristics on the physical, emotional and mental planes. The medicines stimulate body and immune system to repair and heal quicker.
Homeopathy stands alone as a medical art and has also been used as an adjuvant to conventional medicine when there is constraint or limit to the use conventional medicine. A large amount of research has been carried out on homoeopathic medicines. In 1991, a review of 105 clinical trials on these medicines was published in the British Medical Journal, and 81 of these trials were successful. The governments of France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands have been so impressed with the effectiveness and safety of homoeopathy that for many years these medicines have been available on the national health services of these countries.
42% of British doctors refer their patients for homoeopathy. In France, 1/3 of doctors prescribe homoeopathic medicines, and the medicines are stocked in all the French pharmacies. Homeopathy is widely used throughout the world. The World Health Organization has stated that homoeopathy is the second most popular system of medicine in the world.
Homoeopathy for Dental Problems
Here are some dental problems and the homoeopathic remedies that can be used in their management:
Belladonna: Best used for early dental abscess accompanied by redness and throbbing.
Bryonia: Use for acute inflammation or if pricking pain is relieved by firm pressure.
Hepar sulphuris: Use for abscess accompanied by pus formation.
Myristica: Use when swelling is accompanied by numbness of the area.
Pulsatilla: Use when the pain is accentuated by heat and relieved by cold water.
Pyrogenuium: Use when pus is present without drainage.
Silicea: Use to hasten the discharge when pus is draining.
Belladonna: Use for grinding that causes painful teeth.
Podophyllum: Use for night grinding when experiencing a burning sensation of the tongue.
Tuberculinum: Used for children who grind their teeth (must only prescribed by a professional homeopath).
3. GINGIVITIS, PERIODONTITIS AND ALVEOLITIS
Arsenicum album: Use for unhealthy, bleeding gums.
China: Use for gum tissue that is bleeding.
Ferrum phosphoricum: Use for poor gum tone or gums that bleed after brushing.
Hypericum: Use for tender gum tissue and to promote healing.
Kali chloricum: Use for acute ulcerative tissue.
Naturium muriaticum: Tissue integrity.
Hepar sulphuris: Tissue with suppuration, chronic abscesses.
Silicea: Periodontal abscess with swollen glands.
Staphysagria: Loose teeth, pain increased by pressure.
Symphytum: Injuries to periosteum. Stimulates growth of epithelium on ulcerated surfaces.
Mercurius solubilis: Use for acute ulcerative tissue with a coated tongue and metallic taste in the mouth.
Nux vomica: Use for swollen painful gums when the back of the tongue has a whitish coating and when the patient consumes a lot of stimulants such as coffee and tea.
Phosphorous: Use on swollen gums that bleed easily, and when there’s an overproduction of saliva.
Ruta graveoalens (“dry socket”): Use for injured bone and alveolitis.
Arnica: Use for bleeding accompanied by bruised soreness.
Ferrum phosphoricum: Use when there is bright red bleeding.
Aconite: Trigeminal neuralgia
Aranea diadema: Use for radiating pain in the right side of the face that is aggravated by cold. Also use for sudden, severe pain in the teeth at night after lying down.
Cuprum metallicum: Use for cramping of muscles.
Gelsemium sempervirens: Use to relieve headache and pain of the upper back and neck, which extends over the head and for dizziness and numbness.
Ignatia: Use for headache as if a nail were driven through the side of the head.
Lachesis: Left-sided complaints.
Lycopodium: Right-sided complaints.
Magnesia phosphorous: Use for spasmodic pains made worse by cold water and made better by heat and rubbing.
Sanguinaria: Right-sided neuralgia, facial migraine.
Spigelia: Use for pain involving the eye, cheek, and left temple areas.
Zincum phosphoricum: Sharp pains on the right side of head.
Zincum valerian: Sharp pains on the left side of head.
6. POSTOPERATIVE DISCOMFORT
Apis mellifica: Good for post injection soreness after dental work.
Chamomilla: Give one hour prior to dental appointment for patients with a low pain threshold. It also expedites the wearing off of the numbness.
Hypericum: Use where there is an injured nerve.
Ledum: Use for puncture wounds and soreness resulting from a dental injection.
Magnesia phosphorica: Use for stiff, sore jaws following prolonged dental work when the muscles are cramped and feel better with warmth.
Staphysagria: Use for incision-type wounds after soft tissue surgery.
Symphytum: Use for trauma of bone and periosteum.
Baryta carbonica: Use when there is excessive saliva during sleep.
Bryonia alba: Use for an extremely dry mouth, with dryness of mucous membranes and great thirst.
Phosphorous: Use for hyper salivation and when gums are swollen and bleed easily.
Pulsatilla: Use for diminished saliva with no thirst.
8. TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT (TMJ)
Arum triphyllum: Use for pain in joint on swallowing.
Calcarea flourica: Use for hypermobile joints
Calcarea phosphorica: Use when mouth cannot be opened without pain.
Carbo vegetabillis: Use for vertigo with nausea and tinnitus.
Chamomilla: Use for low pain threshold. Unbearable spasms of pain, radiating into the ear.
Cuprum metallicum: Use for trismus of muscles.
Granatum: Use for painful cracking of the joint.
Mangesium phosphorica: Use for muscle spasms.
Phytolacca : Use for earaches with pain extending into teeth, jaw, and throat.
Rhus toxicodendron: Use for joint stiffness that improves with movement and for “Popping” of TMJ.
Antimonium crudum: Use for a toothache that is worse at night and is aggravated by heat.
Aranea diadema: Use for sudden, severe pain in the teeth after lying down.
Belladonna: Use for throbbing tooth that’s worse when pressure is applied.
Calcarea carbonica: Use for a toothache that worsens when exposed to hot or cold air.
Chamomilla: Use for a toothache with intolerable pain that’s worse from warmth and not better with cold.
Coffea cruda: Use for toothache that worsens with heat and is relieved by ice.
Ferrum metallicum: Use for a toothache that is relieved by ice water.
Magnesia carbonica: Use for a toothache that is worse at night. Patient must get up and walk about for relief.
Plantago major: Use for a toothache that is better with pressure and worse without cold air.
Pulsatilla: Use for a toothache that is relieved by holding cold water in the mouth.
Staphysagria: Use for pain from major decay of a number of teeth.
10. TOOTH ERUPTION
Calcarea carbonica: Use for a delayed eruption.
Chamomilla: Use for difficult teething.
Zincum metallicum: Use for teeth gritting during difficult dentition with loose teeth and bleeding gums.
Natrum muriaticum: Use for cold sores and fever blisters. Lips and corners of mouth dry and cracked lips.
Nitircum acidum: Use for ulcers with irregular edges and a raw appearance with a tendency to bleed easily.
12. DECAY OF MILK TEETH
Kreosotum – This remedy has premature decay of milk teeth; they become yellow, and dark and then decay. It also has aching pains in diseased teeth.
In the new era of oral medicine there are more treatment options. Homoeopathy is one of these and plays an important role in dentistry.