Homeopathy & Its Role in Dentistry

Samuel HahnemannIn the late 1700s, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician who had been trained in the conventional practices of the day, developed a different method for the treatment of illness.

Throughout his career, Hahnemann had witnessed techniques like blood-letting, the use of arsenic to treat syphilis and gonorrhea, and the use of mercury compounds as a diuretic and disinfectant. He was concerned that the treatments were often more toxic than the disease.

After the death of Emperor Leopold II of Austria in 1792 from four separate occasions of blood letting within a 24 hour period, Hahnemann published works on his distaste for conventional medical practice. This, of course, did not endear him to the physicians of his birth nation, and he spent the next thirty years moving from one town to the next in order to escape harassment.

Having read Cullen’s work on the use of Peruvian bark for the treatment of malaria – cinchona bark, a/k/a china, which we know today as quinine – Hahnemann used large doses on himself and found that he developed many of the symptoms associated with malaria. He continued to experiment on himself and later did “provings” on his students. Familiar with the work of Hippocrates and Paracelsus, who both used similars to cure ailments, Hahnemann stated the Law of Similars: “A substance that causes, in a healthy person, symptoms similar to those of a disease state, can cure a sick person in that disease state”.

From this thought process, homeopathy was born.

Again, mindful that so many of the substances that he was using were very toxic, Hahnemann began experimenting with greater and greater dilutions. In 1810, his method created solutions that were so dilute, not even a molecule of the original substance was present. His technique was one of “potentization,” which involves succussing, or violently shaking the solution. It is believed that this process allows the remedies to affect the energy or the “vital force” where disease arises and where true healing must take place.

hering01Constantine Hering, a 19th century German physician, set out to prove the uselessness of homeopathy, beginning by repeating Hahnemann’s work with cinchona on himself. He found it completely validated. Having suffered a near fatal wound, Hering was cured with a single dose of Arsenicum Album (a form of arsenic trioxide) and became an ardent proponent of homeopathy. He himself proved over one hundred remedies and moved to America where he founded the nation’s first medical society, the American Institute of Homeopathy. He was responsible for the development of the Hering’s cross- a system to help sort out symptoms, signs, treatment technique and the constitutional type of the person he was treating.

Hahnemann became very aware of the “sensitive “ type as he was treating patients for acute symptoms. Specific problems are usually managed with remedies directed at specific symptoms. In the case of trauma due to an extensive dental procedure, Arnica Montana 15c has been found to be very effective. But things get complicated when there is an inappropriate or null response. In the situations, the symptoms may represent an underlying chronic disease.

For instance, we can treat a dental cavity by removing the debris from within the tooth, disinfecting the tooth and then placing a biocompatible restorative material. However, this does not address the underlying causes as to why the hole in the tooth developed.

  • Is there an immune deficit so that opportunistic bacteria can wreak havoc in an uncontrolled fashion?
  • Is it an enzymatic defect in repair so that normal tooth remineralization does not take place?
  • Are there toxins present that block normal biological processes?
  • Is there a stressor that is overwhelming the system?

Within the confines of the dental office, we predominantly use homeopathy in a symptomatic fashion – Arnica for trauma, Apis for swelling, Hypericum for nerve pain, Staphysagria for post surgical healing, and Lachnanthes for disorders of the neck. However, with enough time and exploration, it would be very beneficial if we could identify the chronic reactional mode of the patient, based on these considerations:

  • Periodicity: How frequent are the symptoms?
  • Alternation: Do the symptoms change sides or are they confined to one side?
  • Sensations: What is experienced – for instance, pain, cold, heat, sweating?
  • Secretions: Are there any? What is their nature?
  • For women, menses: Are periods altered?
  • Desires: Are there any cravings for salt or sweet – or aversions to them?
  • Sleep pattern: Is it regular or irregular? Deep or light? Interrupted? What’s the preferred or dominant position?
  • Key symptoms

We must also take into account the individual’s particular sensitivity. This is a basic constitutional question. Is one frail? Often sick? Easily frightened? Lethargic? Quick-tempered? All these go into determining a more basic cure of the miasm, or that which is, at base, responsible for the particular symptoms or ailments.

This kind of basic miasmatic cure is not something we expect to accomplish in the course of one dental visit, but working together with a homeopath or naturopath, this could be achieved. It is our role to remove the toxic restorative materials and therefore provide a path for a cure. In the true nature of holistic medicine, when we detoxify, we can then allow the body, with help from the energetic potencies of the remedies, to heal itself.