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Toothache – An Unusual Approach

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Toothache – there is nothing quite like a particularly bad one to ruin your day.

Anyone of a certain age in the UK will remember the questionable dental care we received as children in the 50s and 60s – it was bad, very bad.

At least, it was in my world.

Trips to the dentist were feared more than the bogey men hanging in the shadows of night. Seriously – dental practices in the 50s and 60s were torture chambers.

We went in for check ups and came out with toothache.

Just kidding, it’s really a painting by French artist Louis Leopold Boilly 1761 – 1845

As our baby teeth fell out and were swapped for money during the night by some mythical creature that apparently had access to our bedrooms, our beautiful new teeth grew in.

But lurking in the background was that horrible man with his drill waiting to hack massive holes in them for no good reason.

Well, I say no good reason but I am sure there was a very good reason and I suspect it was money.

I had a double whammy of horrible men waving drills around; my mother took me to her dentist regularly and I was also attacked by the school dentist every year.

Toothache was something you did not admit to until it got to the point where you were hallucinating. No child in their right mind wanted an extra trip to ‘that place’.

Toothache in 60s Britain was something you did not admit to until you were hallucinating from pain. Click To Tweet

The debate about the use of mercury in dental ‘care’ may continue but I made up my mind where I stood, a very long time ago.

Why would I want the most deadly heavy metal known to man, stuffed into my teeth sitting inches from my brain?

Well, the answer is I don’t – I just don’t. 

No point in arguing with me, I had it all  removed and my health gradually improved beyond my wildest dreams.

So do not come near me with that stuff or it will end up where the sun don’t shine. I mean it.

I am sure there will be some ‘expert’ somewhere ready to tell me different, but I do not believe it was necessary to drill out an entire tooth and pack it with amalgam when a teeny spot of decay was found.

However that is what they did in the 50s and 60s and possibly the 70s.

All my British friends of my age had heads full of huge fillings from around age seven.

The results for the general health of several generations have been appalling – but that is another post.


So anyway, I still have a thing about going to the dentist.

Even though mine is brilliant and funny and gentle, I still see him as a psychotic killer.

Intellectually I know it’s all hunky dory.

High speed drills, laser drills, headphones playing sweet music, pretty pictures on the ceiling, comfy laid back chairs etc.

But hey, I know you are messing around in my mouth doing stuff that I can’t see and at some point it’s gonna HURT! 

No? Ok, tell you what, how about I hold your testicles while you work? They are close enough.

I’ll do a deal, you don’t hurt me and I won’t hurt you – Ok?

My poor relationship with dentistry went on for years.

I only went when I had a toothache so severe, it clouded my better judgement. By the time I wised up and realised regular checks were essential for overall physical health, the groundwork had been laid down for problems in later life – the very place I have just rocked up to.

So Mr. dentist - it won't hurt eh? How about I hold your testicles just to make sure? Click To Tweet

Lately, I have been plagued with toothache in a large lower molar and my dentist has referred me to the hospital.

With the current state of the health-care system in the UK, it is very likely that my teeth will be wafting out of the crematorium chimney in altered form before the hospital dentist claps eyes on them.

Even though my dentist is brilliant and funny and gentle, I still see him as a psychotic killer. Click To Tweet

The good news is, as long as I don’t eat, the tooth is fine.

The bad news is, I do eat.

I try to eat on the other side but since the corresponding molar was removed many years ago, it’s not the best experience.

So I have toothache a lot.

And it makes me cry with pain.

After trying everything from clove oil to TCP, hydrogen peroxide and xylitol gum, I was beaten and miserable because nothing worked.

Two days ago, I had one of those celestial emails, you know the kind, they just drop into your head from nowhere.

Cabbage leaves. I suddenly remembered spending my ‘new mummy’ days with cabbage leaves hugging my very painful breasts while my babies and I settled into feeding.

It worked, it truly worked. And so I wondered, would it work for teeth?


A quick trip round Google kicked up search results that said yes, cabbage juice can alleviate toothache.

So I took a lovely juicy leave, bruised it a little, rolled it up and shoved in between my cheek and gum.

I bit down on it slightly to crack the veins and I sucked out the juice. OMG!

I could not believe the results!

It has now been 48 hours and I am keeping the pain so under control that I barely know there is a problem.

It does mean that I walk around all day looking like a lopsided hamster who has eaten half his winter stash but I am pain-free!

If you have toothache – try the cabbage leaf remedy – it has worked wonders for me and I swear I was on the verge of another infection on Monday.

I had a fever and felt really ill until I began to suck on that leaf and keep it snug against the affected tooth.

Everything I have read tells me that cabbage is an excellent detoxifier and powerful healer.


I always knew I should not have let that emergency dentist do a root canal late one Saturday night when I lived abroad. There was a faint smell of whisky in the air when he leaned over me but I didn’t have the courage to leap out of the chair and insist on a breathalyzer test.

That was probably my worst nightmare, not only was he a dentist but he was a pissed dentist. And now, all I have between me and the toothache is a fridge full of cabbages. Better than taking pills I guess.
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8 thoughts on “Toothache – An Unusual Approach”

  1. Hi Gilly, I relate so much to your post. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with dentists for years. A necessary evil. I found your blog through Janice Wald’s Mostly Blogging site. Giving you a follow 😉

  2. How timely because guess where I was yesterday? Yup, the dentist. Getting a cavity (at 56 and getting cavities?) filled with mercury! It was in a very difficult place and my mouth is still killing me. Ouch. The mercury thing scares me too but it was the only kind of filling I could get with this kind of particular tooth – too close to the gums and “pulp”. With MS some people also had their mercury removed but not all felt better afterward.

    Good posts and great writing and oh, those nightmarish dental experiences, Gilly. So very sorry. Eck. Yuck. Argh. 🙂

    1. Hi Cathy, that was a coincidence! Hope the new filling has settled down now. My tooth is behaving itself since I quelled the pain with cabbage. Also been chewing on fresh thyme leaves too for the antibacterial properties. Who needs drugs! Thanks so much for stopping by.

  3. Hello Gilly,- Sounds like you had an awful time. For me toothache, is second only to natural childbirth. I grew up at that certain time in England and remember my one and only tooth removal. It was medieval torture.

    My pet peeve is fluoride in the water to prevent cavities, really! It’s not working people There is no scientific justification for it. Why ruin our health for something that is supposed to help our teeth. Maybe a little less sugar in food processing would be more beneficial. Some countries have banned fluoride already, but not here in Canada.
    Glad it worked out for you with the cabbage. I just prepared an infusion of Ontario garlic for my son to help his throat infection. It’s amazing that we are becoming medicine women as we grow older and wiser. I love natural remedies, but you still have to be careful of interactions if you are taking regular medication. Thanks for a lovely and informative post.

    1. Hello Judith, thanks again for your lovely comment. Yes – it’s true – we do seem to become medicine women don’t we? Mind you, I have been that way inclined (since emigrating to Canada at 19 strangely enough). People I met there were streets ahead of the UK in terms of physical and mental health and I learnt so much that I eventually brought back to the UK where my seemingly ‘odd ways’ drew enormous criticism. I remember there was a massive drive in Canada while I was there not to give children aspirin because of Reyes Syndrome (I think that’s what it was). When I came home with a baby and a toddler, I had a huge row one night with a doctor who came out to see my 3 year old son who had an ear infection. He prescribed aspirin and I nearly fell over. When I asked about it he got really defensive and asked me sarcastically where I had done my medical training! He then came back to the house with aspirin and insisted I give it to my son. I refused and asked him to leave. I then copied some pages from a book called Cured To Death and took to the surgery – he refused to read them and told me I was an ‘extremist’. Several YEARS later, the UK caught up and our doctors’ surgeries where displaying warning posters about aspirin for children. And fluoride – yes the good old UK too – we spend a fortune on bottled water to avoid it as much as possible but that may be even worse because of the plastic. And sugar? Oh my Lord – the root of all evil right down there with money! Crazy crazy world. Thanks again Judith – nice talking to you.

  4. I grew up about the same time in NY but have always been an Anglophile (and love British writers) so I know about British dental work!

    My parents claimed that my first my dentist was a monster but they didn’t know any better. Anyway I’m obsessed with teeth because I hate going to the dentist which is a horrible thing

    Funny but I love cabbage.

    I swear by ginger—real ginger root. I believe it stops inflammations and always makes my toothache better. But I’m a ginger freak.

    So glad to find you and your blog!

    1. Hi Pia – thanks for that! Much appreciated. That’s funny – I love the US and would love to live there. Just as this came through, I had finished juicing some ginger and cabbage to drink before bed (with carrots and cooking apple). So I came to sit down and drink it while shutting down and saw your comment. It’s so good to link up with you – I really felt for you reading your last post. It’s a funny old game now but there are advantages to being ‘un-themed’ people. Have a good rest of the day – is it around 6pm where you are? Thanks again – speak tomorrow.

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