Homeopathy is the school of medicine founded over 200 years’ ago by the German physician and scientist Dr Samuel Hahnemann.
It works on the principle that ‘like cures like’, so an illness is treated with a medicine which could produce similar symptoms in a healthy person. The active ingredients are given in a highly dilute form to avoid toxicity, which means that homeopathic medicines are extremely safe.
The scope for homeopathy in dental practice is broad. At the most basic level, homeopathy can be used as an effective complementary treatment to dental surgery to help alleviate associated pain, discomfort, bleeding and inflammation. At a more advanced level homeopathy can be used in dental practice to:
• Prevent or inhibit the development of infection
• Provide additional complementary treatment for a number of oral medical conditions
• Prevent, limit or ameliorate complications following surgery
• Help patients overcome dental phobias and anxieties
• Improve patient tolerance of medications, prostheses and instrumentation
• Facilitate recovery from dental trauma, restorative treatments and anaesthetic agents
I must stress, however, that homeopathy is not a replacement for the skills used in everyday dental procedures but a useful complementary therapy that when used appropriately can benefit patients.
Dental medicines used in homeopathy
Homeopathic dental medicines can come in different forms: tablets, powders, pills, drops, liquids, tinctures or solutions, granules and creams. There are many homeopathic treatments used in dental practice, but some of the most common are explained below.
Arnica is widely used in the treatment of trauma. It is of particular use in oral surgery to reduce post-operative pain and swelling, haemorrhage, and in all extensive restorative procedures. The medicine comes in tablet form and is dissolved under the tongue before and after treatment.
There is also a range of homeopathic mouthwashes available with the most effective being those which have been derived from Calendula, Myrrh or Propolis, a resin-like material from the buds of poplar and cone-bearing trees.
A solution derived from Plantain – a plant whose healing qualities are well established – when applied locally, is an excellent therapy for sensitive teeth, and will give immediate and long-lasting relief after just a few applications.
Furthermore, some homeopathic patients will not use toothpaste containing fluoride, sweeteners, artificial colouring, sodium lauryl sulphate (SLF) or flavourings. But effective oral hygiene can still be maintained as a number of companies provide a wide range of alternative toothpastes. Salt toothpaste is a favourite along with herbal varieties for those who dislike the taste of salt. Toothpastes derived from Kramaria (sandspur) and Sanguinaria (blood root) can also be very beneficial in maintaining healthy teeth and gums, and many people prefer the taste. Botanical tooth gels are also very popular as they have a vegetable glycerine base and no abrasive in them at all, making them especially good for children.
So homeopathy can play a major part in dental care in conjunction with conventional dental practice which, of course, includes regular check-ups.