It turns out that was the filling itself, pushing my molar out of line.
When my dentist poked at it, he could see the filling was ready to come out, so he was able to quickly pop it out with very little damage and no pain.
Underneath, he could see all the decay, but when he cleaned that off, he saw a clean shiny new surface, enough to tell him the tooth was healthy and doing its best to regenerate to defend against the bacterial invaders. The problem, though, was that the cells of that tooth had decided to specialize in protection, defence against invasion, what you might call military action, and had neglected for too long to be healers, to tend the garden so it could grow and flourish, not merely defend itself. He put a "medicine pack" temporary filling in there to help keep the space clean, so the tooth can try to regenerate on its own. This will also help it adjust to the shock of a new filling in a month or so. The tooth needs time to rest and recoup from the damage before it's appropriate to move into a new phase.
It struck me that the metaphors we use in modern medicine are often those of defence, of protection or even actively repelling invaders. But that's not healing in the sense he was describing. We need to understand the difference, that defence is needed, but so is healthy growth, nurturing, optimal health.
If you want a beautiful garden, you need to enrich the soil, not just water it and keep the bugs off. You need healthy plants, not merely not-sick plants.
What does it take for an organism to be abundantly healthy, to grow new tissues and become the best it can be, not just to repel intruders and ward off infection?
Cancer patients are often told to visualize very military images, like armies attacking cancer cells. But that imagery does not resonate with everyone, and it may not be what we need anyway. Maybe we also need to encourage our healthy cells to grow, which will in turn crowd out the unhealthy cells. There are many ways we can become healthier, whether we're in the grip of a serious illness, or are already fairly healthy and want to feel our best.
In a book called "She Who Dreams," Wanda Burch wrote about her experience with breast cancer. She used images from her own dreams to help her body recover from cancer and from the treatment for cancer, often almost as toxic and debilitating as the illness itself. She's now fully recovered. Her choice, to use her own internally generated imagery rather than images suggested to her, was a big part of her recovery and journey back to health. I highly recommend her book.