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An abscessed tooth

Never seems like a dull moment around our house of late! Shortly after my husband was bitten by a scorpion (and helped out of that one with homeopathy), he came to me muttering something about, did I have something for a toothache? I looked at him and asked, "What are the symptoms?" He knows better—after 23 years of marriage I need specific symptoms. I can't just go to the repertory and look up "toothache."

     He plopped down on the chair at the table where I was working and pointed to his left front tooth. "I think it's cracked."
     "How on earth did you crack it? Did you run into a wall or something?" He grinned. "No."
     I frowned and looked into his mouth. The light was bad and I muttered, "I don't see any crack on that tooth."
     "Well, I've been eating a lot of peanuts lately." "With your front teeth? Are you turning into a beaver?" We had a good laugh.
     "When I put my teeth together and put pressure on them, it hurts." I sighed and leaned back and gave him an owl-eyed look. "Do you want to define 'hurts' for me? Is it a nerve-like pain? An ache? A sharp, jabbing pain? Come on, you know I need more than 'it hurts.'"
     Actually, I knew why Dave was dancing around on his tooth dilemma—he hates dentists with a passion. Actually, he hates the pain they inflict on him when he goes—he has zilch point zero tolerance to pain—so dentists are out in his Book of Life.
     He pressed gingerly on the tooth. "It just is like a pressure," he mumbled, "not pain ..."
     Frustrated because Dave isn't exactly verbal when it comes to things like this, I asked, "Does that tooth react to hot or cold water or food?"
     "I don't know."
     "Dave, I can't find a remedy based on "Worse: pressure." There are at least nine entries in Boericke's and I'm not going to try every remedy to see if it's the right one or not—that's not homeopathy—that's the shotgun approach." Actually, in Boericke's it is "Teeth, Modalities, Aggravation, From contact, touch."
     "Oh ..." he sighed and slowly got up. Going to the sink, he poured some water in a glass and put ice in it. Then, he sat back down and hung his front, upper teeth into the water. I just shook my head. At least he was trying it.
     "No ..." he said finally, wiping his mouth, "ice water doesn't bother it. Just the ice cube clinking up against it."
     "Okay, try hot water."
     In one-hundred degree weather here in Arizona, he made hot tea and blew on it until it wasn't going to burn his gums when he sank his upper teeth into the tea water. He sat there holding it for about two minutes. I wished I'd had a camera.
     "No ... hot water doesn't bother it either." "Great. I hate teeth that don't respond to hot or cold," I muttered, getting up, gently palpating his jaw and the sides of his neck, looking for swelling or heat. Nothing there either. No heat, no lumps, no nothing. My lucky day.
     "I hate cases like this. Lousy general symptoms and no particulars." "You're muttering again," he said.
     I rolled my eyes. "No kidding. Is there any heat around the tooth?" He fingered the area diligently. "No ..." "No swelling?"
     "No ..."
     "A lump on the upper part of the gum?"
     "No ..."
     "Are you sure you've got a toothache?"
     "It's a toothache," he assured me, getting very serious for once. "Does anything make it better or worse?" "Just the pressure on it."
     "How about day or night? Any difference then?" "No ..."
     "Weather doesn't affect it?"
     "I've only had this for a day, but no ..." "No good symptoms."
     "I'm positive. I think I've cracked it." Sighing, I went and retrieved a flashlight from a kitchen drawer. "Open up and let me take a close look." I did see what I thought was a lateral crack across the tooth. His gums weren't white or dark red. There was no swelling and there was no difference in temperature of his gums. "I dunno," I murmured, feeling like the lion tamer whose head was in the lion's mouth. "You need to make a call to the dentist and find out, Dave." I dislodged my fingers and flashlight from his mouth. 

     Disgusted and frustrated because I had no definitive symptoms on which to base a definitive prescription, I chose the old standby, Belladonna 30C, one dose. An hour later, Dave said there was no change. So, I tried Mag phos 30C. No change. And then out of desperation, I tried Chamomilla 30C. Nothing. Then I tried Hypericum 30C. Zilch. I was really disgusted then.

     "Go see the dentist tomorrow and let me know the diagnosis. Maybe then I can figure out a remedy," I mumbled.
     "Do I have to?"
     "Do you want this thing to get worse?" I knew Dave would rather die than go to the dentist and I was betting that this tooth was making him miserable enough that the dentist looked like a good bet.
     "Yeah ... I guess I will."

     The dentist told Dave he had an abscessed tooth and showed him the x-ray film—which Dave brought home for me to look at. We stood at the kitchen sink studying the film by the light of the window.
"He says I have to go to a specialist and get a root canal," he whined. "Not only that, it's gonna cost $600." 

     I patted his shoulder. "That's no fun." And I could see $600 going to a far better place than into his mouth. I could see some blurry "stuff" on the side of the tooth, around the root. Infection. For some reason, Hepar sulph. came zinging through my mind at that instant. 

     "Hmmm," I said, heading down the hallway for my medium dose kit, holding onto that intuitive zinger.

     "What?" Dave asked, suddenly perking up and watching me go for the homeopathic kits. "Do you have a remedy?" His voice was hopeful. His face mirrored joy.
     I knew he didn't want the root canal. But equally bad, he sure didn't want to shell out $600, either. Neither did I on both counts. I reached for Hepar sulph 200C.
     "Here," I said, pouring about six pellets into his hand. "Try this. You'd better hope it works because I'm out of ideas on remedies."
     He eagerly popped them into his mouth. "What is it?" "The fire engine remedy," I said with a wry grin. "Huh?"
     "Hepar sulph. I remember Dr. Roger Morrison at one seminar a long time ago saying that this guy who was an arsonist and set fires used Hepar sulph to cure him of his mesmerization with fires. I've always thought of Hepar sulph from that point on as the 'fire engine' remedy."
     "What's that got to do with my mouth?" he mumbled, sucking on the pellets.
     "You got a fire in your mouth, don't you? Inflammation is fire of another kind. It's burning down there in your roots. Like cures like, you know. You got a fire, so we use a fire remedy to put it out. Belladonna, my other fire remedy, sure didn't faze you." I jabbed a finger at him. "You'd better hope Hepar does or you're going to be heading for a root canal pronto."
     Unhappily, he shuffled away. "How soon will I know?" he asked over his shoulder.
     "Now, Dave, how many times have you taken a remedy?" "I've lost count," he said with a shrug. "Come back in half an hour. If it's the right remedy, we'll see some change."
     I was in my office working when Dave poked his head in the door twenty minutes later.
     "I think it's working."

     I stopped typing. "Oh? How do you know?" He pressed on the gum next to the tooth. "It's not as sensitive." Heartened, I crossed my fingers. "Good." Within two hours, the sensitivity in the tooth was 25% better. Because abscessed teeth are one of the hardest things in homeopathy to cure because the lymph system around the teeth is a "closed system," I knew I had to aggressively treat this or Dave was heading for a root canal. Bless him, he's such a wonderful guy and he's so super-sensitive to pain that I really didn't want to see him go down that road to "dental hell." The first 12 hours, I gave him two doses of 200C Hepar sulph. The next morning, it was 75% improved. I hit him with a third dose. That evening when he came home from work, I gave him a final, fourth dose because about 10% of the sensitivity was left.

     The next morning he woke up and said his tooth and mouth felt normal. He promptly went out and cancelled the root canal appointment. I thought it was a little premature, but who could blame him? That was a week ago. He's a happy man. So happy, as a matter of fact, that he replaced my trusty 20-year-old Minolta camera which had broken down the same week his tooth broke down. Dave bought me a used Canon body and a brand new close-up lens for taking photos of my flowers and gemstones—for $300.

     He said that was the least he could do for his favorite homeopath who saved him from a horrifying root canal and losing $600. Thrilled with his thoughtful gift, I told him I'd rip up the bill I was going to send him. We got a great laugh out of it.

     Now, I'm happily snapping some gorgeous color photo close-ups of my wild and tame flowers, and Dave is no longer having nightmares about dentists. Thank goodness for homeopathy! 

     Hepar sulph has been my number one remedy for tooth abscesses in my practice over the years. Because the teeth have a closed lymph system where there is little circulation (unlike our fingers and toes where we have lots of little blood vessels to move infected material out of those areas), once an infection gets started there, it's very hard to cure homeopathically.

     In my experience, several things have to occur with an abscessed tooth to get it to respond to treatment. First, you usually have to nab it or detect it within 72 hours of the actual infection beginning. If you've waited a week, it's probably too late because the infection has spread so far and wide and the remedy just isn't going to be able to drain the infection due to the closed lymph system. (You can try, but your chances of success are much smaller).

     Second, you have to be lucky and get two or three good particular symptoms—unlike Dave's case (his type of case is what I refer to as a "crapshoot"; finding the right remedy is pure luck) where he had only one general symptom. If you don't get any good symptoms, have the person go to the dentist and find out what is wrong with the tooth. 

     If it is an abscess, and it's sensitive to pressure, think about Hepar sulph. Even though Boericke's doesn't list it—put it in with red ink as an addition. One of Hepar's main indicators is sensitivity to everything—including pain. They are exquisitely sensitive to any pain—be it mental, emotional or physical. And that was Dave's only symptom. I just didn't "get it" soon enough, but after the dentist diagnosed it, then Hepar sulph, which is my top abscess remedy, came zinging through my fogged brain (of course, if the symptoms don't fit the use of this remedy, don't use it).

     Belladonna is a premier abscess remedy, also, but there is usually more heat associated with it—either around the gum itself, on the side of the face (the skin) where the abscess is located—or there is an actual reddish looking color to the jaw/face in that region where the abscess is located. And the lymph glands on that side of the neck may also be mildly swollen. If they are hard or lumpy, check out Baryta carb. 

     When someone says "toothache" I immediately think of Chamomilla, Hypericum and Mag phos. Keep all these on your list. But for abscesses, keep Belladonna and Hepar sulph on your Top Ten list of possibilties, too. 

     If this true story makes you want to go to your repertory, under "Teeth," do so—there are plenty of other "toothache" (known as odontalgia) remedies—familiarize yourself with them. Make a Top Ten list. Keep it in your medicine cabinet next to the flossing material and toothpaste. Who knows? Maybe the next time someone in your family gets an abscessed tooth and you save them with a homeopathic remedy, the Good Tooth Fairy might leave you some payment in return.

Editor's Note:
Homeopathic dentist Dr. Richard Fischer of Annandale, Virginia, has remarked that he has treated cases of tooth abscess successfully with homeopathy. However, he also sees cases which respond well initially, but later the symptoms return. There is always a small amount of bacteria that remains behind after the infection in the tooth appears to be healed; it can lie dormant (for days, months, or years) only to flare up at a later time, perhaps when the person's resistance is low. For this reason, it would be wise to have a dentist monitor such a tooth over the long term. It might also be a good idea to treat a person "constitutionally" after an acute problem such as this.