My maiden name has 7 consonants in a row.
And then one vowel at the end.
When telemarketers used to call, always during dinner (remember that?), they’d say, “May I speak to—” and then a massive pause.
Most of them didn’t even attempt it, but they all were cursing the fact that they had to get THAT name on their list!
It was awesome.
We’d yell, “Moooooommmm! Do you want to speak to a telemarketer?!”
We knew by the pause that it was going to be a pushy salesperson trying to meet their quota, and we’d brush them off.
Can you imagine if all of life was like those dinnertime calls?
If you walked into a doctor’s appointment or dentist’s office having to steel yourself to be ready to say no, because you knew the medical professionals were just trying to meet their sales quota and pushing something that you didn’t need?
That would be crazy, right?
Unfortunately, the more I learn, the more cynical I become.
An acquaintance of mine who is a hygienist has been following my cavity healing attempts with interest, and when we chat about her job, she goes on about how much she loves her boss and how she begs him never to quit, because she couldn’t bear to work for a dentist who had certain goals for each week on root canals and other procedures. She’ll say, “I am all about fixing people who are hurting, but I couldn’t bear to recommend something someone didn’t really need just to keep my job.”
And then this reader shared about the “Million Dollar Club” that some dentists participate in, an organization that strategizes about how to get patients to spend more money in their offices.
Yes, I become more and more skeptical and put my armor on before I walk into any office now.
How can I not?
I know not all dentists or doctors seek monetary gain over patient health…but it blows my mind (and make me so sad) that any of them do, that it’s seen as acceptable practice.
Is it a Dentist Epidemic?
If you ask Ramiel Nagel, author of Cure Tooth Decay, he is clearly of the opinion that the majority of dentists, the whole field of dentistry, are headed in the wrong direction, away from patient health and wellness and toward financial wealth.
I interviewed him for over an hour last month, and you can see his basic answers compared against two dentists in this post about the results of my cavity-healing diet, but today I thought I’d share more of the interview with you. Here are my notes:
One (More) Reason Ramiel Doesn’t Trust Dentists
He had a similar experience to mine, went to a holistic dentist to remove mercury fillings and the dentist saw what appeared to be arrested decay on the X-ray and wanted to fill it, between the teeth on an Xray – so similar to mine. He declined because it could have been very old or a result of palate expander devices he uses.
He takes filling cavities very seriously – when a tooth is being drilled, that’s surgery. You’re removing part of your body permanently.
He’s all about encouragement and compassion.
“The best treatment for ourselves is one that involves taking care of ourselves in a compassionate way. There is not a fixed rule of what treatment is right or wrong, as each person is different.”
Even though digital X-rays are very good, it could just be a shadow.
“From my understanding, there should be more than one sign to indicate that it needs to be filled. In other words don’t get a filling just from a small spot on an X-ray. This is still from a conventional perspective. Even if an active cavity is found, it can still be remineralized and drilling can be avoided. Often these types of cavities can be remienralized in 2-6 weeks time.
Seeing one spot on an X-ray to me is not a good justification.”
On the History of Dentistry
According to Ramiel, who has talked with a lot of dentists, we have a problem in the field of dentistry in our culture today.
He says that 50-100 years ago, the only thing a dentist would do is help if their tooth hurts so bad that they feel like they’re dying. They would fill it and hopefully it would end the pain. The idea was that if someone was in pain and they don’t know what to do and it was affecting their whole body, then a dentist made them better.
Over time the idea of keeping people healthy turned into a making money goal.
That’s where the confusion comes about. It seems like dentists are looking to find something to do where most things aren’t necessary, such as finding arrested decay on an X-ray and wanting to drill and fill it, even if the former cavity has been inert for 20 years.
Often the price isn’t worth the consequences, he says – not just monetary, but you’re drilling away part of the body and it’s irreplaceable.
“You don’t want to perform surgery unless the benefits of the surgery outweigh the risks. C-sections are a good example of surgeries done for the wrong reason, when they are used when not medically necessary it is traumatic, destructive, painful. This happens far too often because of a profit driven, life denying system where the patient’s real needs are secondary to monetary gain.”
“Dentistry has gone from a mission of helping people to let’s make money, we gotta pay the bills.”
He thinks that if you went to a dental professor at a college and asked, “Does this need to be filled?” they would probably say no, not on one X-ray.
Teeth are designed to be worn down and they can often get beat up, it is somewhat normal – called dental erosion. It’s a normal process where teeth get beat up a little bit.
Instead of a dentist saying, “That’s a normal indent,” or that it could be caused by pregnancy, etc. they’re calling it a cavity always.
“Whatever the reason, the tooth got stressed out and developed a hole, and now it’s an opportunity to make money. The system is so diseased and it’s hard for people to get how bad it is.”
Dentists won’t say it because they’re scared, but they contact him to share the news.
Is There a HOLISTIC Dentist Hiding In Your Town?
Robyn Openshaw over at Green Smoothie Girl spent months calling every holistic dentist she could find in the U.S! She learned what services each of them provide, and made a special guide so you can find a holistic dentist who uses practices that are non-toxic, so you can avoid heavy metals, root canals, radioactive x-rays, and more.
She’s made all the information she gathered available for free in one amazing resource, The Insider’s Guide to Holistic Dentists.
He mentioned a few resources (books found on Amazon):
- Toxic Dentistry Exposed
- Money by the Mouthful
- How to not get overcharged and overtreated at the dentist’s office (USA Today)
- Dentists Aggressively Overtreat (from his blog)
- Complete Guide to Dental Health
Once we got through the introductions…which took a while (!)…I asked some of my questions:
Would you agree that one cannot diagnose a cavity on one xray?
I’ve learned from dentists but I’m not an expert on diagnosis and treatment from X-rays.
Some things can be diagnosed on one – serious infection, etc. 100 dentists will say different things. Dentistry is an art form.
If I was going to a dentist, I would not submit to a treatment just from one X-ray and one opinion.
“While a dentist might take lightly drilling someone’s teeth, I see drilling and filling as a last resort.”
If an X-ray is your only sign and you have no other symptoms at all, doing surgery doesn’t make sense. Even if there was a big cavity, we still ask the question, is drilling a hole in someone’s tooth the best way to address the cavity? Often time it’s not.
This would be a good time to say that I, Katie, am not a doctor or dentist, and neither is Ramiel. This interview was 100% opinion and is not to be taken as medical advice, or even truth. Even I have to admit that the farther Rami swam from the mainstream, the more “conspiracy theory” he began to sound, the more I began to doubt his information personally. But the guy has done a ton of research and talked with a lot of dentists, and he’s seen results in many people who read his book and followed the protocol…so it’s still very much worth hearing what he has to say.
Do you think my diet helped my teeth at all?
Assuming you metabolize food well, diet constantly remieralizes or demineralizes teeth.
Do you think I still need to stay on a strict or not-so-strict decay healing diet?
Not so strict, but mindful.
The avoiding grains isn’t, “You have to eat this way all the time to avoid tooth decay,” but, “This is how you dig yourself out of a big hole.”
If I didn’t have other symptoms…
At which point I interrupted to say that I have had sensitivity to sweet, like when I chew dates or prunes.
And then we were off on a journey that ended with my diagnoses as a stressed-out mom who needed a bath!
Why Teeth Have Problems
Ramiel launched into a LOT of information about all the many reasons one’s oral health and tooth health could go awry, including:
- Both receding gums and tooth decay are caused by losing minerals in the jawbone.
- Stress can cause sensitivity – he seemed amazed that I was still functioning at all with four kids and no nanny or housekeeper! (Clearly we live in different parts of the country…Midwest/Cali.)
- Tooth decay or gum disease is caused by a certain set of circumstances – when the circumstances change, the demineralization stops, and body returns to neutral. (pregnancy, stress, minerals, etc.)
- Cavities can be caused by just a deficit in one mineral.
- Can be caused by many things that stress the body: EMFs, wireless, and antibiotics as children. Many things can make us more susceptible.
- Dietary impacts aren’t just what you’re eating but how you eat, the time of day you eat, busy-ness.
- One way to check is saliva pH testing – to see if your minerals are balanced. Saliva pH should be about 6.4. If you’re off, then something is off in your mouth and you may be demineralizing. Not necessarily, but when the cause is consistent demineralization over time, the solution rarely is to drill and fill. Drilling is for structural problems like an emergency.
He told me: “You don’t have ideal circumstances – breastfeeding, stress, etc. For me, if you’re not having cavities or having it stable, neutral, you’re doing great!”
How Are We Going to Fix This?
“If a tooth is hard, it’s functional.”
Ramiel continued that it’s normal to have pits and grooves and stuff, from the damage of a lifetime, but if it’s remineralized, you could put a filling on without drilling.
This is a compassionate approach, to make the patient stronger. “Your dentist exaggerated that you had an active cavity, because only active cavities are what needs to be filled. You didn’t have one.” (My dentist isn’t going to like that statement!)
“Part of the key in dealing with the recession is to slow down and relax; we need to get out of the hyper mode and slow down. You probably need more of that angle than the nutrition. That hole may or may not get smaller – it could – but that takes a long time.”
Rami continued to voice his distrust of the dentistry profession: “We’re dealing with a profession that puts one of the most toxic substances into people’s mouths!” He speaks of mercury, from which 25% of fillings are still made.
“From the laws of nature, to go to someone and give them complete control of our health is misaligned. It’s a very strong imbalance to put that in someone else’s hands. It’s not a responsible way to live…and yet this is how the profession makes its money. He’s in a bad position; he has to save you!
If you show up and know what you need that surprises them; they don’t have to save you anymore!”
Note: One resource a lot of people, myself and my mom included, have used to learn a lot about their oral health is Orawellness – they have a series of 5 free instructional videos about oral health that are fantastic.
What About That Diet?
I expressed my disappointment that the anti-cavity diet that I went on for two months (which helps many people in as little as six weeks, Ramiel shares) did not seem to “fix” everything.
It came back to stress again, running a blog, parenting, my busy lifestyle, lack of sleep, the fact that we had a Smart Meter installed outside our bedroom in December:
“All those things could impact why the anti-cavity diet didn’t work as well as you wished it would have.”
So what does he recommend for me?
I don’t need a perfect diet, but “if you’re susceptible, which you are because you’re under a lot of stress, you have to be careful. If you’re in a more stable place, you can eat other things.”
We talked about beans and grains, and it turns out they aren’t quite the demons I thought they were, avoiding them 100%. But whole grains can still be problematic: “Eating brown rice as far as I know is not a traditional practice.” Grains are stressful to eat because we do them so badly in our culture, refining them into white flour, processing foods, and adding more bran, etc.
Ramiel said beans are pretty safe overall, that “Phytic acid points to the problem but is not the problem itself.”
Best choices for carbs are likely:
- white potatoes
- sweet potatoes
- black beans
- mung beans
- (smaller legumes)
- nixtamalized corn
- soaked buckwheat
- sourdough bread – in safe category, but only if it’s sifted, de-branned
- white rice or partially milled rice, but not brown rice (also about balance, gotta have plenty of dairy to balance the high glycemic load in white rice)
BUT I thought it sounded awfully strict at the time, and I feel like he has softened up (or changed his recommendations, however you want to phrase it). What do you think?
Ramiel said unequivocally, “Chocolate is very bad for gum disease, many things point to problems with teeth.”
A chocolate craving can point to me needing more calories – when under stress people need lots of calories. It could also point to needing magnesium, at which point he began to talk about the benefits of a magnesium salt bath which would benefit minerals and also de-stress me. (I totally did it for Mother’s Day! I could feel the cavities healing as I soaked…hopefully that lasts until next May…kidding, of course.)
Ramiel is not a doctor or dentist of any kind, but if he was, and this was a consultation – it definitely began to feel as if my health and lifestyle were under the microscope, yikes! – this is what my prescription would have been as I left the office:
- add bone marrow to my diet (not sure if I can just max out on beef broth or not…guessing I need to consume marrow – it can be found at US Wellness Meats)
- keep my calorie intake high, especially with breastfeeding – plenty of milk, cheese and butter
- keep my carbs up
- turn off wireless at night (I already keep it off on my laptop at my desk and my phone unless I’m using it, which is not even daily)
- get rid of our Smart Meter (sigh…I hate this issue)
- “Also get enough sleep – your body can’t heal.”
I just recorded an interview about adrenal health yesterday (you’re going to love it, coming in June) and the bottom line on that issue too: sleep. Turns out it’s pretty important to whole body health. Sometimes I wonder if I should order out for dinner so that there aren’t any dishes, we can all eat together without stress, and get to bed earlier.
Does all the time I spend making food from scratch become null and void if we don’t have the sleep card in place? (or the stress card?)
Ironically, Ramiel called at dinner, just like one of those old telemarketers.
I missed dinner and bedtime routine with my kids completely, but hopefully this interview was worth it! (Kudos to my husband for picking up my slack and getting everyone fed and in bed on time! He’s better at time management than I am…)
The last portion of this cavity healing experiment series will be a wrap up of what I’ve learned, what I’ve been doing since my second X-rays, and what I’m learning about my wisdom teeth. Here are the other posts you’ve missed so far:
- My Plan to Heal my Cavities
- 3 Experts Share on Healing Cavities – and the results of X-ray number two
- Interview with Dr. Judene Benoit, author of How to Stop Cavities
- My wisdom tooth surgery without anesthesia or prescription pain meds
If you need one more super interesting thing to read, Ramiel told me about Dr. Judene’s post on the Healthy Home Economist about minimally invasive dentistry – dentists came out in droves to fight her tooth and nail about it, but he completely agrees with her. Phew! What a tangled web we weave…