Have you had dental or surgical interventions in your life after which you felt you never recovered?
Have you got what I call “lingering or looming” trauma from dentistry or surgery?
Dental/Medical Repair/Prep Sessions
You know how it goes. You go to the dentist. You lie there with your mouth open and the bright light shining down on you. These days the assistant will offer you sunglasses or safety glasses if they’re going to do something messy. You get the bad news: cavity, root canal, cracked tooth, crown, bone graft, gum graft…
You are offered a treatment plan - what your dentist recommends as the best course of action. Now you have a choice to make.
When you decide to repair the damage in your mouth, you subject your body to anaesthetic, intervention that leaves bruising and tissue damage, and, to be perfectly honest, trauma that we don’t often acknowledge.
A dental intervention is not just another appointment. These are not things that we just waft lightly into and out of.
Yes, you signed the consent forms. You said yes. But I want to tease out here that your conscious brain signed the consent forms after a logical decision making process. Your body likely did not.
And since we so often disregard our anxiety and fear, and force our way forwards into these interventions, our body has little space to process the pain and, from a body perspective, violence, that occured.
You might be experiencing lingering/looming dental/medical trauma if:
You are aware that you were “just not the same” after an intervention.
You avoid going to the doctor or the dentist, even when you are anxious about something you are experiencing physically.
You have elaborate methods of convincing yourself you are ok (and still worry underneath).
You don’t even go and get your teeth cleaned, or go to the doctor for check-ups (even though you can afford it).
You check out of your body when a dental or medical appointment is upcoming.
You shut right down, like only the pilot light is on, during the time you are in dental/medical care.
It takes you a weeks (or more) to feel somewhat normal again afterwards, if you ever do.
Hi, my name is Rachel.
I became an unwilling expert in accumulated dental trauma through personal experience.
At age 8 I was horsing around and I smashed three of my just barely new front adult teeth. Three hours at the dentist on a Sunday and back to school the next day.
At age 10 I had my first root canal in one of those teeth after three days of mounting anxiety and pain. Then my dad dropped me back off at school, still frozen.
Then a second root canal in the other top front tooth. And back to school.
I remember multiple school days where I was trying not to smile or talk because my cheek or my lip was still frozen with dental anaesthetic from various things.
In my mid-20s the filling material in one of those root canals abscessed up into my gums and I had a emergency apicoectomy - where they surgically opened up my gum under my top lip and cleaned out all the infected material. I had ridden my bike to my dentist’s appointment, and then ridden my bike straight over to the dental surgeon. After the surgery I was so stunned that I called home for a ride. My dad said, “But don’t you have your bike?” I burst into tears when I had to explain what I had just been through, and that I needed to just sit in his truck with my bike in the bed of the pickup and go home. It was hard for me to ask for that.
At 27 I had a bicycle accident where I flew over the handlebars and the hood of the car that had interfered with my path and hit the road, hard. I went to the hospital in an ambulance. I needed 9 stitches in my chin and I had 8 broken teeth - all molars that had smashed and sheared each other on impact. I was at the dentist’s office until midnight stabilising my teeth and back again at 8 the next morning for another 4-hour stint.
It is an interesting thing that I had just finished rereading The Power of Now at the time of the bike accident and I recovered very quickly from the body damage (chin, two almost broken elbows, various mangling in the hips/knees) without falling into wishing that this had not happened to me.
But the four years of dental interventions ground me down:
One extraction and implant that took three surgeries with sedation to “take” properly because of a near anaphylactic reaction to Percoset after the first one.
Wearing a dental appliance for two years to hold the space between my teeth before the crown could be mounted on the implant.
One immediate root canal, plus at least two later ones, bringing my lifetime total up to five or seven (I lost track, somewhere along the way).
One intensely traumatic “crown lengthening” done without sedation by someone who should have referred out to a specialist (I’m still bitter). And don’t let “crown lengthening” fool you into believing that this is minor - this is gum and bone surgery with lots of blood that I should not have seen.
And eventually 8 crowns or partial crowns and I was done. For now.
But of course, dental repairs are not stable forever.
I bore all of this with the inbred stoicism of any good daughter of English descent.
And in the meantime I had begun a much longer, larger healing process to dig into generational family patterns of denial of emotion and depression. Eventually, in the BodyTalk and shamanic healing training I was doing and sessions that I was receiving, the trauma that my body was holding from all of this dental work began to surface.
I will tell you straight up that I cried, a lot. I cried for that little girl who had such pain and who went to school after every single dental intervention, with cheeks and lips still frozen. I cried for my teeth, damaged and lost. I cried all the tears that I had stopped myself from releasing at the time.
In the quest to resolve the headaches that I would get once a week that lasted one to three days, I went to see a rolfer. He put on a pair of gloves and reached deep into the hinges of my jaw and just held on while my body shuddered and shook and tears poured from my eyes. I felt the echo of every single needle of freezing that I had ever received. After that, I held my mouth differently. The anger that had been the undercurrent of my every waking moment and that I was only peripherally aware of eased. It was miraculous.
As part of the deeper healing process, I had a series of written conversations with each of my damaged teeth. One in particular stands out - the one that had received the traumatic crown lengthening. This tooth told me straight up that its position in my mouth was precarious. It was the measure of my moderation - if I started wobbling in my self-care and becoming indulgent with sugar, it would let me know very quickly. And it has. I can feel that potential wobbliness right now, deep down into my jaw, even as I write this.
The next time I had to get major dental surgery done (another freaking crown lengthening) at age 40, I went to a specialist whom I trusted. But I needed to seek the support of my naturopath too, since, as the date of the intervention approached, I began to dissociate from my body - like I was perceiving my life from a distance and walking through my daily reality holding an empty bubble in front of me. Life lost all meaning in those few days before I noticed I had basically left my body to get on with things on its own. My naturopath set me up with homeopathics for anxiety and an intense dose of arnica for bruising before and after. It was … okay. It was still dental work, but it was okay.
These are the things that I learned from this journey that I never wanted to take:
We accumulate emotional trauma through damage to the body. Even if we gave our consent to receiving that damage.
Our teeth are not a separate system to the rest of our body. No part of us is separate from the whole.
If sedation is appropriate, it is your friend.
It is possible to remain whole before, during and after medical or dental intervention, but we need to mindfully set up our approach and our decompression afterwards.
It is not too late to repair the emotional damage that your system is holding around prior surgeries or interventions.
Physical manipulation modalities to repair tissue damage are supported by alternative modalities that restore your emotional wholeness around body trauma of this kind.
It is possible to slow down and go mindfully into medical or dental interventions. It is possible to let the body know what is happening, and to listen and find out if there are specific things that the body would like you to do to take care of yourself before and afterwards. Sometimes we need help with this.
A client’s story:
A client came to me because they were needing to have a tooth extracted. They had a great deal of anxiety because of childhood dental work. We had a conversation with the tooth that needed extraction, and we found out what it needed before it was taken out. We did some repair work for my client around the childhood dental trauma.
Then we then lined up a series of things that my client needed to do for themselves before the extraction, including homeopathic arnica and Rescue Remedy. We also talked for a long while about making sure that the dentist who was performing the extraction knew what it was that my client wanted from their experience, what was okay and what was not okay - creating good boundaries. It also turned out that the tooth wanted a proper goodbye. So my client asked their dentist if they could take it away with them and give it a burial with mourning.
Not all dentists or surgeons will be as open to alternative ways of moving through the dental/medical systems as this one was. In this case, I was pleasantly surprised at how supportive my client’s dentist was to all of their requests.
My client’s recovery from this extraction was swift and more gentle than they had expected.
What some people have said about these particular sessions:
“Digesting residual fear”
Working with Rachel Warrington after a dental procedure profoundly shifted the level of discomfort I was feeling. I strongly believe that her unique talent in dental healing helped me to digest my residual fear, adjust more quickly to the fillings and helped avoid further trauma going forward.
Rachel M., Victoria BC
“A disturbing decision at the dentist’s”
I have known Rachel for several years and am forever grateful to the friend who introduced me to the delight that she is. I have been in many circles with her and felt the loving energy of her rituals. The safety I feel, along with Rachel’s immense gifts, allows me to bring out that which I don’t even know I am holding on to.
Three years ago I was given a disturbing decision to make at the dentist’s. I went to Rachel for help and we delved into childhood traumas regarding my teeth. The English system in the 60’s involved much teeth pulling and general anesthetic but more importantly a total lack of choice as to the prescribed action. During the sessions on Rachel’s table we discovered where I had lost my power and after some soul retrieval Rachel helped me realize that I had a voice and should use it. I went back to the dentist feeling empowered and, equipped with some energy exercises, ready for the upcoming procedure which went extremely well.
I highly recommend Rachel for any of the services she offers. I have always left her treatment room feeling lighter, more closely connected to the person I really am and filled with gratitude.
Gillian S, Victoria. BC
These sessions will be a good fit for you if:
You have upcoming dental/surgical work and you know that you are not coping well with the looming prospect of it, but you’d like to forge a mindful pathway to this procedure that you have, in some way, chosen.
You are able to get counselling or naturopathic or physical manipulation support if you need it.
You have dental/surgical trauma that you know you’ve never recovered from.
These sessions will NOT be a good fit for you if:
You don’t have at least a half hour per week to spend on self-reflection after the session (or between them if you commit to a pair).
You don’t think that intuitive therapies work and you’re not willing to give them a try.
You have an idea of what your body might be holding and you are afraid of it. Please, please, find a counsellor. I have resources for you: let’s find you the support that you need.
These sessions cost $120. Please allow 90 minutes so that we can do everything - check-in, session, easing you back into your regular world - with no rush, no fuss.
If you are heading into a procedure of some kind, I recommend one session before the procedure to set you and your body up well, and another one after to decompress.
(If you haven’t already read the page for my Intuitive Healing Sessions, which is a general description of what I do, click here…)