My teeth and what they have taught me

by Gabriele Conrad, Goonellabah, Australia

My teeth used to really distress me, and visits to the dentist even more so. Not because I was scared, but because I just didn’t get teeth, this part of our body that does not regenerate. It felt like my teeth were aliens in my body and didn’t behave how they should, but ran their own agenda.

  • You start with one filling and then you have more.
  • You keep getting bigger fillings as new bits of decay appear.
  • Bits of a tooth might break off requiring reconstructive work.
  • A tooth comes out, and of course it doesn’t grow back and you get a bridge.
  • Another tooth comes out and you decide you can’t afford the bridge and leave the gap; and also, it is at the back of your mouth. But chewing becomes a bit more difficult and uneven, food can get stuck and the teeth on either side of the gap start leaning across.
  • More teeth come out and you need dentures or decide to have implants.
  • Your gums are not looking that great, they bleed a lot and your teeth are sensitive.
  • You want to have implants but there might be problems with the bones of your jaw.

And so the list goes on.

I found teeth depressing and visits to the dentist a bit of a downer. They do a great job and I haven’t really had any bad experiences at all, but the relentlessness of the deterioration, no matter how slow and well managed, together with the perpetual catch-up and “what’s the bad news?” flavour of each dental visit, never failed to put a dampener on me.

This all changed when I started attending Universal Medicine workshops and presentations. I learnt about taking responsibility rather than taking my health for granted and considering myself mainly indestructible (except for my teeth, that is). And I got to understand that teeth are a reflection of my past choices, all of them.

As I started making more self-loving choices in the way I lived, I actually began to floss more regularly, rather than just the obligatory half-hearted manoeuvres I had previously executed once or twice a week. And because I knew and could feel that it was about me and for me, I started to enjoy looking after myself in this way and flossing daily became part of my rhythm, part of what I do for me.

I really started to appreciate my teeth for the role they play and what they are there to show me, whatever their state of health or lack of it might be, and that includes my gums, which, by the way, have improved out of sight.

And I found a great dental practice so I now look forward to my dental visits, and the level of care and attention to detail that I am afforded is truly amazing. No longer are my teeth aliens in my body; they are alive and communicating to me by the way they present. Visits to my dentist are not obligatory catch-up procedures anymore, but opportunities to appreciate what is being offered by my body and to deepen my understanding, appreciation and self-care.

1,064 thoughts on “My teeth and what they have taught me

  1. I changed my dentist recently and had my first appointment. I had specifically asked for the gentlest dentist they had and she is very gentle. Everything was explained to me including the x-rays – she has been the first dentist to ask if I wanted to see them! I was told that my teeth were in good condition and that the bone that my teeth sit in was very strong which was unusual for someone my age. And by discussing my treatment with her, she was able to tell me that they could give me a local anaesthetic that wouldn’t make me feel racy, this was a revelation to me and when I had to have some work done on a tooth and I was given this particular anaesthetic, my body didn’t race, it was a completely different experience.

  2. What you offer here is an opportunity to consider the fine detail we are willing to bring to our self-care and the option to see everything we do as an opportunity to deepen that relationship.

    1. Something I can only confirm after yesterday’s visit to the periodontist – another level of care to go to has been offered.

  3. I feel that teeth like our feet seem to get a raw deal as we tend not to take such great care of them as the rest of our body. But they are both very necessary for all the obvious reasons. I see some patients who have no teeth and no dentures and they have extreme difficulty in speaking and eating anything that is not smashed up for them.

  4. Gabriele, I loved reading your perspective on teeth and agree to the hesitancy in visiting the dentist. Teeth aren’t visible until you smile, its a part of the body we don’t need to display daily, but do they project to others the self care we have for ourselves.

    It’s the first thing I notice when I speak with someone and every time they speak, the self care and nurturing of themselves says it all for me. So this is what I must be reflecting to others too.

    When I was younger, I ate, drank and smoked and my teeth were fine but there comes a point in time, where I had no choice but to take heed of what was going on with myself. I’m not at that point I need bridges, dentures etc, but they certainly cared for more lovingly than before. My evening rhythm of brushing is the same as I prepare to take my body to bed.

    For me what I realise more and more is that teeth require just the same level of care and attention as the rest of the body. As age goes by, the depth of care changes, it is that simple.

    1. You raise some great points here; unfortunately, despite all the dedication I have brought to my teeth over time, they don’t look that great and I can’t commit the funds on what is needed for veneers and braces, etc. That makes me realise that a lot of people might think I am not looking after my teeth from how they superficially look, bridges and crowns being reasonably invisible. Well, so be it I suppose – the care is still there and I have to put to rest what I cannot practically attend to. Incidentally, I have applied for straight beautiful teeth next time around!!!

  5. What you share in appreciation at the end of your blog Gabriele is a far cry from how you felt about your teeth at the beginning. When we begin to self nurture and self care the level of commitment we can bring to ourselves and then to all others we are with is pretty incredible.

  6. It is inspiring to read how your relationship with your teeth has changed and the appreciation you now feel for all that they share with you. I am much more diligent in how I care for my teeth but am now feeling that there is a deeper level to go to with appreciation not only for how they support me every day but also the reflection that they offer me in how I am caring for myself.

  7. Every part of our body deserves the same attention and love. It’s amazing how it instantly responds and regenerates very quickly when we offer what it needs.

  8. At my last routine visit to the dentist, a hygienist showed me how I could floss with more care and attentiveness, taking the angle of each tooth into account. Sure, it takes a bit longer, but I am having absolute fun with it as it is far more satisfactory and each move feels more purposeful.

    1. The more we dedicate ourselves to the details, the more rewarding and fun it gets. I discovered this recently with a rather cumbersome 14-page form I had to fill in. Once I moved past the resentment and read each question with interest and openness, the form started to make sense and was done without an ounce of negativity..

      1. That is so true – when we give attention to details they are no longer meaningless peripherals we once brushed off. They become alive and we can have a relationship with it.

  9. “because I knew and could feel that it was about me and for me, I started to enjoy looking after myself” It can be very noticeable that when we start to truly care for ourselves, including our teeth, then our overall health improves.

  10. Important with any diseases part of the body to understand what happened, why and use it as an opportunity to be be more loving with ourselves.

    1. Kehinde it is spot on in bringing understanding to what happened. Every time I had a tooth pulled out, I used to get wiped out and I needed to rest deeply that day, a rest like no other. And when the tooth was gone, it felt like there was a big crater and emptiness left behind, and the other teeth were mourning, for the loss of another. Weird feeling I know, though being honest here.

      1. Shushila, I love that you rested deeply after your tooth extraction, Sometimes we miss this very important step, essential for our recovery From recent experience, tooth extraction can be very painful too, but is also a massive clearing. The gap left behind symbolic of space and potential. As is said ‘watch this space’

      2. Well, in that case I better start to embrace my gap – so far I have been fighting it, wanting it to not be there; thanks for the inspiration.

  11. Like you Gabriel I came to appreciate and care for my teeth when I met a dentist that cared about me and my teeth and supported me to be the same. It took some convincing to build trust between us, but once I did, my teeth became integral to my self care routine. In twenty years I’ve had a couple of procedures, but no longer neglect my teeth or take them for granted.

    1. It is said that if we ignore something long enough, it goes way – in the case of our teeth, that is a very poor prognosis indeed as they do not thrive on neglect and nor does the rest of our body and being. With the right support, everything can be turned around.

      1. Well said – we do not thrive on neglect. If you ignore a leak it simply erodes in the background till you are prepared to deal with the leak, and of course the ensuing complication from ignoring the leak in the first place!!!

  12. Well I think my teeth are one part of my body that is certainly slightly neglected, while I do brush the obligatory twice a day – reading your blog I can sense there is much greater levels of care that I could take in this area.

    1. Whether we do things perfunctorily and because we should or whether we apply ourselves to even the minutest detail of daily life makes a huge difference to our health and vitality. The former is rather more duty-bound and feels heavy while the latter brings joy and aliveness, makes our particles tingle.

  13. I have also come to appreciate how my teeth are a great marker of the quality of care I am offering to myself and when I have not gone to the same amount of detail in flossing and brushing they soon start communicating that a deeper level of care is needed.

  14. Taking responsibility for how we care for and look after ourselves sets a standard and a foundation of steadiness and solidness within. Committing to self care builds self worth and confidence.

  15. Gabriele, thank you for your sharing – I used to be scared of dentists too as it hurt to have my jaw open and it hurt to have the fillings done and then later in it hurt to get braces and it hurt to wear braces. I would find it hard to relax in the dentist chair as I was so used to everything hurting that I would be bracing myself even when it was not hurting! But I did some across an amazing holistic dentist a few years ago who has made the experience completely different – she really connected with me and allowed me to feel so held during the treatments. She also helped me understand more about the teeth and how with the treatments there is so much going on in the body and the detox that follows that it was normal for someone as sensitive as me to feel raw and sensitive during and after the treatments. This was great to understand, and with that I am more caring and honouring of myself especially around dental treatments. What a blessing to offer myself!

    1. A supportive and understanding dentist is a real blessing; an experience like that can turn our whole dental history around.

      1. So true Gabriele, when you find a dentist that offers true care, the dental work offered can be so healing and supportive.

      2. With the help of a supportive and caring dentist, every appointment turns into a healing session.

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