A Tooth Quest

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:

  1. Life, stress and dental problems
  2. Responsibility and Dental Health 
  3. Sugar and Dental Decline
  4. My teeth and what they have taught me

 

 

643 thoughts on “A Tooth Quest

  1. So great here Dianne how you are exposing the limitations of our so called solutions. We often try to use solutions to counter the effects of our daily choices rather than looking at the beginning so to speak of the original choice and whether it makes sense or not.

  2. This is a revelation in recognizing that every decision we make has an impact either in this life or another one. Thank you Dianne.

  3. I remember feeling like no amount of dental advice about sugar was going to stop me from eating it, and I’m sure this is common for lots of things which are bad for us, and this reveals the nature of our spirit which does not want anything other than its right to say it can have what it wants, but this may not necessarily serve us in the long run. What I can say now is that I don’t eat sugar and generally don’t crave or enjoy sweet things, I feel as though my body becomes uncontrollably stimulated and causes fogginess.

  4. Thank you Dianne for providing an insight into the harm that a sugar diet has on our dental health. So often we are convinced that if we eat sugary foods and brush our teeth that the harm will not be noticed on the body. My neighbour works in this field and specialises in oral dental health for young children. She recently shared how the rates of decay due to the consumption of high rates of sugar diets, has escalated in the last 10 years. The worst in 30 years. Although the dental care and education is offered to us all, it is the willingness to be responsible for our daily actions that make the difference.

  5. As I was reading this I kept saying to myself, ‘there’s more to it, it’s not just the brushing or the sugar’ and there it was at the ending… I agree, our teeth an overall oral hygiene reflects to us more about how we are as a whole, our wellbeing, how we are taking care of ourselves. I remember going to the dentist when I was 16 and my mum had just passed over. It had an enormous impact on me and it showed in my mouth! I knew this when the dentist was speaking and saying my mouth was very ‘active’ with bacteria where it wasn’t like that before. I could see the link, quietly to myself but there was no other information about it, just my own knowing of how I was feeling at the time that created an ‘active mouth.’

  6. It makes sense to me that teeth reflect the way we have been living – each tooth, every filling, crown, root canal, bridge and gap as well as our gums have a story to tell and it is not always a pretty one, but important they are as they show the way forward and that everything counts, down to the smallest detail.

  7. Great blog Dianne, I love how informative your blogs are and how you present something for us to learn from and ponder on too. I have found that looking after my teeth has been an essentially part of my oral health, taking proper care to clean and floss between my teeth has definitely improved them.

  8. As I have deepened my self-care over recent years so has the level of care deepened with my dental health. It is something I have learnt to commit to from half-heartedly flossing to flossing every day, and now has become a ritual that my whole body enjoys and responds to.

  9. Yes Dianne, we like to see life as a million separate things, best navigated by rules and regimes. ‘Do this, do that but don’t take the other’. But how many of us stop, to stock take the quality our life takes place in? Or the connection between choice A and choice B? For what you show us here is that our traditional view of life’s details seems to be inside out. So what, as an experiment would our world be like if we made every step about energy and intention first? And saw every event as part of a bigger whole? Perhaps then we would have to admit there is a science to life we have until now, simply ignored.

  10. What an in depth understanding of teeth made simple to understand by the brilliant and light hearted way that you write Dianne. I know the best thing I ever did was to remove the mercury amalgam from my teeth, it was worth every penny and I no longer have the sluggish feeling of tiredness that I had before. Since making the time to floss every day I can see and feel a difference in my teeth so it made sense that bacteria don’t like oxygen so allowing my teeth to have space to breath made sense. I feel like you that teeth can tell a story of our past and how we have lived. Thank you Dianne for making science so real and relatable.

  11. Your enthusiasm for science is infectious and the fun and simple way you present and relate it to everyday life is so interesting, thank you! All the practical tips you have shared make sense to me e.g when and how we brush and floss and also being open to seeing what energetically is reflected to us in our teeth and gums and whole body for that matter!

  12. I can remember as a child being committed to my health in the sense of healthy eating and exercise and cleaning my teeth was no different. I was inspired by my granddad who told me when I was in my teens that he had no fillings, only one tooth removed and that remained until he died in his late seventies. He also told me that he did not brush his teeth twice a day every day and of course the fluoride toothpastes, floss and mouthwash weren’t around then like they are today. Ever since I often pondered on what he shared with me and was sometimes puzzled by the fact that he didn’t religiously take care of his teeth… there had to be more at play!

  13. Dianne it was really interesting to read your blog about teeth, thankyou. Sugar was so normal in the 70’s and 80’s when I was growing up, there was even a belief that you needed sugar to think. The advent of the low-fat food fad also saw a rise of hidden sugar in many products. What would have been supportive at that time would have been health warning adverts about sugar from the dental associations! Great blog Dianne, thank you.

    1. There has been so much false science in the past few decades that it is surprising to me that anyone takes science seriously anymore. They have a long string of getting things very wrong but they never apologise and no one holds them accountable.

  14. I love your enthusiasm and dedication to investigating, observing and making sense of things. I did not imagine enjoying reading about issues with teeth so much. Fascinating. Then there is even more – reflection of karma! I would love to read a blog from you on that one 🙂

  15. I love how you break this down Dianne, it strikes me reading this, that we are often given partial advice without full facts, so brush your teeth but no real direction on when to brush and the best time. I too was a diligent brusher so much such that I over brushed and affected my gums. But in fact on reading this today and considering what I did, it was all from fear of not wanting to loose my teeth, so in fact it’s only in later years that I’ve actually developed a relationship with my teeth and considered what they have been showing me and since then my overall care has changed so now while I still brush and floss, how I do it is vastly different, it’s not a chore but a daily check-in and more with my teeth and what they show me.

  16. “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.” Thank you Dianne for saying it how it is, what a great wake up call for us all to check in with how we are living as our every move/ action/ thought is directly impacting not only this life but our next life too.

  17. The huge difference in my level of dental care and hygiene now is due to the deeper relationship I have built with myself over recent years and realising that the little details matter and need to be given as much loving attention as the bigger things.

  18. “Do your teeth reflect the way you have been living?” A good question Dianne. I’ve always cleaned my teeth at least twice a day, but had fillings from a young age, despite sugar being rationed ’til I was four. The karma explanation makes a lot of sense to me. So the quality with which I brush (and in fact do everything) nowadays will affect the quality I return in.

  19. My mother lost all her teeth after childbirth and apparently this was very common in the 1950s due to a) diet and b) dental preferred practice was to remove all your teeth rather than do everything possible to enable you to keep them.

  20. A great reminder to not become complacent about tooth care and also recognizing that we have some Karmic influences also working against having great teeth.

  21. It was amazing to read through this article and come to a point where everything is being done right physically but something we’re afraid of is inevitable. It implies that we’re more than physical and our bodies reflects the physical and energetic imprints that we’ve managed to accumulate over lifetimes. Thank you for sharing!

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