By Dianne Trussell, BSc Hons,Goonellabah, NSW.
When I was a little child, I was already committed to my health. At school we were taught in the subject ‘Health And Hygiene’ to brush our teeth 3 times a day, so I did that diligently. But no-one told us or demonstrated how to actually brush properly. And no-one told us about toothbrush care. They also told us that sugar was bad for our teeth and caused decay and that’s one of the reasons we should brush our teeth 3 times a day. But no-one told us what foods sugar was in! And no-one told us about relating the sugar consumption and the brushing together in time i.e. that you needed to brush your teeth after you ate the sugar and what this would mean for the wellbeing of our teeth.
My mum had false teeth, as she ‘lost’ all hers in her mid-teens. That was so horrifying to me that I was motivated to care for my teeth! Not only that, but because she had no real teeth for her whole adult life, she was no role model for tooth care for her children. Putting your plastic choppers in a glass at night hardly qualified!
So fast forward to young adulthood, and I had tooth decay breaking out everywhere, and extremely thin enamel from too-hard brushing for too long in childhood. To me dentists were demons and the clinic was some version of hell. The burning smells, the intolerable whining of the drill, the pain. Oh, the pain! I’m very sensitive to most drugs, but eventually discovered that I needed double the expected dose of dental anaesthetic to effectively numb my mouth.
So you can understand that I was a bit cranky with the dental profession and health education, and how I perceived them to have failed me.
So I began to find out for myself….
And discovered that there’s a Catch-22. When sugar is consumed, it produces a lot of acid. Acid dissolves tooth enamel. If you brush right away after sugar, your softened enamel gets worn away quickly by the brushing. But if you leave the sugar on your teeth, it gives the bacteria time to use it to eat away at your teeth, i.e. decay!
So what do you do, brush immediately and thin your enamel, or wait and risk decay? Obviously the answer is: don’t eat or drink sugar! But back then, sugar was utterly ubiquitous and normal in everyone’s diet. And as you can see, without understanding the time connection, I was doing both – brushing sometimes right after eating sugar and sometimes long after – and getting both results: thin enamel and decayed teeth, in spite of being a dedicated tooth-brusher! It seemed hopeless. And there had to be something else going on with the tooth decay story.
In my third year of undergraduate studies in Biological Sciences at university, we did a practical class on the main species of bacteria involved in tooth decay: Streptococcus mutans. All the students took a sample from between their teeth with dental floss, which we then cultured in petri dishes to see what bacteria were in there. We tested the strength of the bacteria to produce the ‘glue’ that they use to stick onto teeth and start the decay process. Different strains of the bacteria produced different strengths of glue. To my horror, of all the students I had the most powerfully decay-inducing (‘cariogenic’) bacteria. My strain was a doozy, a patient’s nightmare and a dentist’s dream! So you can understand that my level of interest in the tooth decay process leaped up exponentially at that point.
We had the choice to do an in-depth project in microbiology, and I chose Streptococcus mutans (of course). The scientist who was my microbiology lecturer and laboratory practical supervisor saw my dedication and the quality of my experimental work and kindly gave me special privileges, such as expensive culture media for my bacteria, extra attention, support and resources, and permission to use the labs outside normal hours. Thanks David!
In the course of doing this experimental work, I learned a lot about these bugs that bugged me so painfully. One thing I learned was that they are ‘partial anaerobes’, that is, they are not too keen on oxygen and get on best without it. Hence one of the benefits of flossing every day – it pulls oxygen in between the teeth and below the gum line and can help tip the scales in favour of the human. Sucrose is the favourite food of Streptococcus mutans and it’s when it digests the sucrose molecule that it produces the glue that sticks to teeth – a polysaccharide that looked like colourless honey on the culture dishes. Within half an hour after eating sugar, this glue would already be strong and the bugs locked onto your teeth, so you’d have to brush right after eating sugar. But the acids produced by the sugar are around for about an hour, softening your enamel, so you’d have to wait over an hour before brushing! There’s the Catch-22. So eating or drinking the sucrose present in many forms of food – table sugar, cane juice, golden syrup, molasses, agave and honey – was a no-no. But try eliminating sugar from the diet in the 1960s, 70s and 80s! It wasn’t easy but I did my best.
After uni, I read books on dental bio-films: the layer of bacteria forming an ecosystem on your teeth. The bio-film can both protect and can harm your teeth and gums, depending on how you look after your overall health and your teeth particularly. I learned about the toxic effects (including subtle and long-term) of mercury in dental filling, many of which I had been suffering for decades. And I spent a few thousand dollars and eight months of misery and serious symptoms while replacing my fillings and removing the stored mercury from my body.
So now here I am at 59 with 3 gold inlays, 2 or 3 root canal jobs that I don’t enjoy at all, and 3 other teeth that are more filling than teeth. One inlay came off on a Friday night and I had to go the whole weekend with a ring of ‘razor blade’ enamel and exposed nerves in my mouth. One fell off while in India, and fortunately I found a very skilled dentist to stick it back on for me. The root canals sometimes used to get infected with anaerobic bacteria that are smelly, and I had to floss 3 times a day and bathe the tooth in peroxide to knock out the offenders. My enamel is so thin that my beautiful, ‘well’ cared-for teeth look greyish from translucency and yellowish from easy stainability, and thus people think I don’t clean my teeth! But my dentist knows, and was gobsmacked – he said in all his years of practice he had never seen such clean teeth and gums!
So why, if I have the cleanest teeth my dentist has ever seen, have I had so much trouble with my teeth? Could there be more to it than just eating sugar? Lots of other people I know kept eating sugar, and did not take nearly so much care with cleaning their teeth, but their teeth are fine. Why the difference?
Since studying with Universal Medicine, I have come to understand that there is more to teeth than roots, dentine and enamel. In fact, our teeth may reflect our karma – not just the choices we have made in this life, but the choices we have made in other lives. Now that is something worth pondering on!
Do your teeth reflect the way you have been living?
Read more about dental health:
- Life, stress and dental problems
- Responsibility and Dental Health
- Sugar and Dental Decline
- My teeth and what they have taught me
680 thoughts on “A Tooth Quest”
As I’ve had my wisdom teeth taken out I’ve experienced more than just a clearing of infection or errant teeth. There has been an energetic clear out as well. Now I am experiencing such once again with the final wisdom tooth and I welcome knowing more about why it is how it is.
Dianne, this is in-depth information about sugar and its effects on tooth decay. I’ve learnt something new about my own teeth and the bacteria we harbour in our mouths, I agree it is ‘catch 22’.
We, naturally are not meant to consume sugar in vast quantities, and in most cases what happens when we continually indulge in anything, our body reacts somewhere along the way. As humans we are not the best in consuming things that is supportive of our bodies, we are very good at abusing or over consuming and all we are doing is making an industry or a pharmaceutical company richer, for the sake of our health and wellbeing.
I used to think I had good set of teeth but the years of alcohol consumption made them weaker, and not forgetting the sweet consumption. I take better care of my teeth now then ever, and somehow it feels there is more to be done. I now brush my teeth with more purpose, less rush and more attention than seeing it as another chore.
And I agree there is much to ponder on, how our teeth reflect karma – I would not have entertained this to our body parts but it is all relevant, nothing is nothing, everything matters.
It’s amazing how many keys about ourselves and our choices we can find just by observing our body and its symptoms. Everything is recorded in it.
There is so much that happens when we put food into our mouths, the body starts working to change the contents immediately and the teeth have a major function with this. Understanding the energetics as well (for example, like the heart is a mechanical pump but the energetic understanding is love) gives us the wisdom knowing teeth are connected to karma and helps us feel the releases that can happen around the teeth too.
Having had continuous sensitivity in a particular tooth over a long time I have been supported to understand why that discomfort is there from choices I have been making for a very long time, possibly over many lives. Whilst the methods for dealing with the symptoms are the same as any other person, it certainly helps to take ownership of the issue and to start to make different choices.
I guess everything about our body reflects the choices we have been making all along, but I would love to know more about the relationship between teeth and karma.
Fumiyo, I too would like to know more about teeth and relationship with karma. I grew up that life was karmic especially when bad things happened for a person, but when we break it down further to our body parts, then I’m fascinated and in the front row seat (minus the popcorn and sugary drinks…).
We can be inspired by the choices of another however seeing the unhealthy choices of another can be enough for us not to do the same and inspire others through the choices we make and show there is another way. Seeing a relative with no teeth can be scary enough to say ‘I don’t want to be like that!’ and also seeing a relative that has clean and healthy teeth can be enough to say ‘I want to have teeth like that!’ I can say this is what has happened to me throughout the years and has had enormous impact on my relationship with my teeth.
A super informative blog that has re-inspired me to floss, and to understand how and why it works – and how we can truly take care of our teeth. Thank you Dianne.
Fascinating to understand that the way we have been living, which includes so much more than the foods we eat and the drinks we consume, not just in this life but previous lives also, can have such a huge impact on our teeth.
It is amazing that with something that most of us do at least once a day like teeth brushing that there is so little information around about how best to carry this out to maintain your dental health and not cause other issues e.g. receding gums from over-brushing.
It is great to understand what is at play when we consume sucrose and how it attacks the tooth enamel and what the options are to best counter it if you are unable to give up completely which as you point out requires a lot of diligence as it is so ubiquitous. With the consistent rise in diabetes I would imagine that dental health issues are going to become more prevalent and it is extremely useful to have such clearly explained information. Thank you Dianne.
Very informative on sugar and teeth, I didn’t fully understand what sugar does, and how destructive it is … but the real question is understanding why we reach for it and being more aware of how we are when we do.
Our choices impact our body. The more we accept this the more we will be able to take greater responsibility for ourselves.
“Obviously the answer is: don’t eat or drink sugar!” And then the question is ‘How have you been living that may be reflected in the health, or otherwise, of your teeth?’
It is not so common to hear tooth health and karma put together. But this is one of the wonderful things about Universal Medicine, how they make sense of every detail in life and relate it to the bigger more fundamental aspects of our lives, which personally I find very supportive because it helps me to understand not only myself but also how life works and the journey that every one is on.
“Do your teeth reflect the way you have been living?” And I would add ‘does your body reflect the way you have been living?’ – for all our choices are like painted strokes on a canvas which is our body.
I have over the years discovered that I have very thin tooth enamel too – hence when I eat foods like citrus (for example even a squeeze of lemon in water), or fruit or berries etc then my teeth get very sensitive as the acid from the fruit begins to eat away on the enamel further. Sensitive teeth can give you a headache and can be very challenging to live with as you seem to react to hot or cold drinks and foods, sweet foods etc. And when the pain is triggered it is like nerve pain that gets you right to the core. By simply cutting out these foods and by have a gentle tooth brushing regime, and also by swirling some minerals in my mouth, I have managed to have little to no sensitive teeth today.
Thank you for that tip Henrietta as I too have sensitive teeth and have been taking minerals 3 times a day along with other things to counter the effects of mercury toxicity but have never considered swirling them around my mouth to increase the beneficial effects.
Thanks Dianne, fascinating read about teeth, bacteria in the mouth, and sugar. Some people can do all the right things and have many problems with their teeth, others may be lax on oral care yet their teeth are ok. This signifies to me that there is more going on than just the basics of the physical.
Spot on Melinda – the body is amazing with how it communicates things to us and we can have so much more fun with life when we allow our perceptions to be far grander than just the mere physical explanations.
It just goes to show that everything is energy – regardless of how much you brush your teeth and take care of them, if there is a lesson to be learned in regards to your teeth they will show it.
Love all that you are presenting here Dianne. I have also just read Gabriele Conrad’s blog ‘My teeth and what they have taught me’ that is also posted on this site. In this she mentions that our teeth are of one of the parts of our body that do not regenerate. This means that how we have cared or not cared for ourselves becomes immediately apparent by the state of our teeth, because nothing here is being erased or regenerated. We are left to see and feel it all – you could say it is our karma left bare. Observing the state of our teeth helps us to more astutely observe the energetic quality of our previous choices. Paying more attention to this will help us tend with more care, not only the state of our teeth but also the source of energy we align with (love or not-love) in our every movement in life. Furthermore, the mouth is the beginning of the digestive system and on an energetic level we are being asked – which energy do we ingest? As are we being asked – how do we digest life? Do we accept love or do we accept abuse? There is so much for us to look at here.
Dianne I love your blogs, there is always so much information and a great deal to ponder on, from my own experience I can say that our teeth do reflect the way that we are living, because if we are disregarding of our own care it is often shown to us in many ways including our teeth, so when I need any dental work doing it is also an opportunity to consider how I have been living.
I love your blogs Dianne, science made so simple and easy to understand – Thank you.
I love your dedication to your teeth and the detail you go to to understand and find the answer. You unplug the way we look at science and medicine today and give an insight to a much deeper spectrum of all that plays into our health and well-being.
I love it – could multidimensionality be the only thing that would explain the seeming unexplainable?