Friday, October 17, 2014

Obsessing About Teeth: A Journey Toward Natural Oral Care

My's green.
I have always been diligent about my teeth.  I was constantly paying attention to my parents brushing their teeth to see how long they brushed, whether they kept all the foam in their mouth or spit it out regularly, were they brushing in circles, up and down, or side to side.  Even with my complete obsession about the right way to brush teeth, I was still the only kid in the family who got cavities.  It was my first visit to a dentist.  I was seven.  I was mad.  My two older siblings made excuses why they didn’t brush, or did a quick rush job and then left.  I was diligent.  This was unfair.  I had one full cavity and two sliver cavities on the sides of my teeth.  They were all filled.  I cried during the appointment because my jaw ached so bad only a short time into the procedure.  Luckily this was the only time I would have to deal with fillings.  I don’t believe I went to the dentist again until I was seventeen.  It wasn’t because of fear or avoidance; the dentist was just something we couldn’t afford.  The cleaning was unremarkable when I went in.  The hygienist cleaned my teeth and then the dentist let me know I had perfect teeth and would never need braces and that was that.  All other visits were about the same. I never thought there was an alternative to the system of brushing, flossing and dentist visits.

I thought the article needed teeth.
Taking a picture of your teeth is weird.
Looking at the picture is even weirder.
I have always been interested in herbal health and the natural way of things.  When I was pregnant with my first child, I was working at a health food store, gaining more knowledge and learning about new ways to do things.  I started to look at ingredients and deciding which ones I could accept and which were too over the top.  As the years went on, the list of things I could accept grew shorter.  I finally looked at the ingredients of my Tom’s Toothpaste and asked myself if toothpaste was even needed.  I did some reading, and found that toothpaste is for the most part unnecessary.  It is the brushing that is helpful.  For over a year I ditched the paste.  Near Christmas I had some tooth pain and made an appointment with my dentist to get it checked out, thinking one of my fillings was loose.  He gave my mouth a clean bill of health and sent me on my way.

It was a few months later that I started noticing a change in the color of my teeth.  There were discolorations on my front teeth that I didn’t recall.  I started to worry about the state of my teeth and the connection to my health.  This led me down the path of writings by Ramiel Nagel and Weston A. Price and his followers.  The inner scientist in me cringed at all the assumptions made in the articles I read.  I didn’t read it all.  I haven't even read Price's book yet, just sections and what Nagel talked about.  I read enough to decided that, though I wasn’t going to delete wheat and beans from our already very whole food diet, I was going to add cod liver oil, but only the green Carlson bottle kind, not the fermented paste that is all the rage.  I have my reservations about the logic behind fermented cod liver oil, but I will leave that point for another discussion.  My teeth did start to look better.  I still thought I could be doing more.

I found a remineralization toothpaste recipe from Keeper of the Home as well as a clay toothpaste recipe.  I decided to give it a go.  I liked it.  My mouth felt clean and minty.  Was it doing anything?  I didn’t know.  I already had a healthy mouth.  Around the same time I found an article about using charcoal to whiten teeth.  Amazingly, the charcoal cleaned the discolorations and proved to me that they were just stains (most likely coffee and red wine.)

Then my daughter came down with cavities.  There were a good five or six of them.  All the size of pin pricks.  All in baby molars.  I was devastated.  Was she brushing? No.  So I took a bit of time to freak out, thinking about all the things we could change, and then I calmed down and realized we had some time to experiment.  We talked about how important it was to brush our teeth and I mixed up some of the new toothpaste for her to use.  She also started on the cod liver oil.  If the toothpaste hadn’t made a difference, we would have taken other measures, but luckily within a week the cavities had started to lighted and within a month or so they were barely noticeable, if at all.  I think there is a bit of staining left over and intend to brush her teeth with charcoal once or twice to alleviate that. 

Clay Toothpaste

2 tablespoons Coconut Oil (I used the stuff from Costco for the first batch and Trader Joes for the second one.)
2 tablespoons baking soda
2 tablespoon calcium magnesium powder (I used pulverized whole food cal/mag tablets)
½ tablespoon birch bark derived xylitol (I used Xylismart)
1 ½ tablespoons bentonite clay (I used Frontier Bentonite but I also have some from Mountain Rose Herbs)
2 tablespoons real sea salt (I used regular sea salt, but I bought Celtic Sea Salt® for next time)
10 drops trace minerals (I used Source Naturals ColloidaLife Trace Minerals)
20 drops Essential oil of your choice but peppermint is a good choice (I like Aura Cacia oils)
½ teaspoon clove extract (I used Herb Pharm Clove Extract)
½ teaspoon myrrh Extract (Again, Herb Pharm Myrrh Extract )

Mix together and put in container of your choosing, but this is thick so I wouldn't suggest anything that you have to squeeze.  I have mine in small glass jars, with wood popsicle sticks for scoops (they are actually from Haagen Daz ice cream bars).  Scoop some onto your toothbrush and brush as per normal.

For Further Reading
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price (I've only read excerpts but on my todo)
What Price Said by Elizabeth Walling (Will make you want to read the book above)
Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel (Read most of this one but had issues with it)
Holistic Dental Care by Nadine Artemis and Victor Zeines DDS (This one I just started reading and I learned more about the structure and function of the teeth in the first three pages that I have read in all of my reading.)
Dazzle! Whiten Your Teeth With Activated Charcoal by Crunchy Betty

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading,
Sarah McTernen

*Disclaimer:  I am not a dentist, a doctor, a nurse and I don't play one on TV.  I am just a person who has been studying health, herbs and the like on my own for over twenty years.  Anything I write is my own synthesis of the information I have found.  There may be errors.  There may be things I don't know.  Before trying anything, do your own research.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Building Strength

You cannot fix bullying with an ad campaign.  You cannot fix bullying by convincing the mean kids to stop it.  You cannot fix bullying by only punishing the kids who are doing the bullying.  You know what kids who are bullied need? Those kids who are constantly brought down by sarcastic comments, barbed insults, shoves in the hallway, internet smears, etc.  They need one person.  They need one person to look at them, find their passion, and foster it.  It takes someone building them up in a way that is stronger than those tearing them down.  This is much harder than writing a PSA for the morning news.  It takes a lifetime commitment.  It takes someone canceling out the negativity in this world with a bit of positive influence.  It takes grown people viewing children as human beings instead of chattel or worse, blocks of clay to mold and manipulate.

You cannot stop the bad things in this world and you will never rid it of the bad people.  The only thing you can do is build strength: in yourself, in others, in your personal community. 

Sarah McTernen

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Jumping Over the September Slump

September always flies by without anything really getting done.  I don't know how, but it happens every year.  I feel like I am constantly playing catch up; sitting down and falling behind.  Then October hits and the fog clears.  Life seems to make more sense, but I have to prepare for one of the busiest months in my house.  I mean, we have four birthdays and Halloween (which is a medium size holiday for us but still very important).

I have a few goals that I would like to hit by year end.  One is to finish the book I have been working on.  No, this isn't the awesome story that none of you have heard about because I believe in the mantra that you shouldn't talk about the book you are writing but write it, it is not the cook book that yes is still on my plate and I am hoping to get the rough draft done by 2015, but it is a photography and poetry book that I began putting together in June.  Summer was full of show prep and the like, so the book was pushed back in the pile, and then the aforementioned September slump, but after I get the senior portrait session developed and the photographs from my trip to central Washington, I am getting right on that.

I am also going to attempt to build both Etsy shops up to 200 or so items in the next month.  Really it is only adding about 50 items to each shop, but it will be a feat to accomplish.  Etsy is making a lot of changes that may or may not be good for sellers like me, but for now they are were I am selling, so I am going to put more effort into listing and updating.

I also am going to post more, because why have a blog if you don't write in it.  Silly me.

Talk to you soon,
Sarah McTernen
Photographic Artist / Jewelry Designer