Would you like a side of surgery with that?
If you could choose between having surgery and healing, what would it be for you?
I’m proud to say that, thus far, I’ve avoided surgery on my mouth in favor of waiting, researching, exploration, and second opinions.
Asking questions allowed me to avoid surgery.
No body parts cut out.
No foreign substances inserted in my body.
I’d say that’s a win, at least for now.
The Waiting Game
If you haven’t been following the story, my situation was simple: I had a few cavities.
It’s as expected as putting milk on cereal, as normal as turning car headlights on at night – if you have a cavity, you get it filled.
But I didn’t.
I am guessing that most dentists don’t hear, “No thanks,” when they tell a patient it’s time to get a filling.
I knew I had read about people healing their cavities via the proper diet, and I couldn’t NOT try it. As much as I might have thought Ramiel Nagel was a little over the top in our interview, I agree with him on this point: I’d rather heal something than have someone cut it out or medicate my body.
My dentist is cool with letting me hang on for another six months or a year, and we’ll see what happens.
The Second Opinion
Dr. Judene Benoit agrees that I may have an arrested cavity and that follow-up X-rays will tell us more, and another local dentist, Dr. Icabone in Fennville, MI, rang in because a hygienist from his office is a friend of mine from church.
He looked at my two X-rays and gave me some more insights on risks and the hope of healing the cavity.
He pointed out that the lesion is not all that close to the nerve, so there’s lots of space that it would have to enlarge to cause real problems. With careful monitoring, we should be able to tell if it’s going to increase in size and catch it in time if I’m not successful at arresting the cavity. (Careful monitoring would likely be another X-ray 6 months out from my last one, and then if that is showing no increase, yearly after that.)
Having the base X-ray from January is very helpful, and he looked at both and didn’t see any cause for alarm. It’s hard to say if it’s changed for the better (yet) because of slight variances in angles.
I love that this confirms that waiting doesn’t have a massive risk. I know I worked pretty hard for 2 months to heal these things with food – could I have done the dietary changes better? Yes:
- I did not oil pull every day.
- I completely fell off the wagon on the magnesium supplementation and the wheat grass blend.
- I ate a lot of fruit, all through the day, plus lots of dried fruit (figs mostly in the evenings as snacks). Dr. Axe’s recommendations say one piece of fruit, early in the day. 🙁
- I didn’t really cut down on snacking (the “constant grazing” thing that I mentioned in my reasons these cavities may have cropped up). Although I certainly had less sugary snacking. Possibly less snacking overall because I was just busy! Although based on what Dr. V told me, maybe they showed up now simply because they showed up on digital, period, and they’ve been there a while.
- I wasn’t 100% perfect on brushing my teeth twice a day, at least not after the first 6 weeks or so. 🙁
- I did reintroduce legumes and white rice just about 10 days before going to the dentist. Could that have had an impact? Who know?
So I could probably do another few months with an even more dedicated regimen…or I could continue doing what I was doing…
But am I willing to keep this up for a year? The whole diet – no way.
Cure Tooth Decay says it could actually reverse cavities completely in 6 weeks. I had 8 weeks on the diet and 3 months on the supplements. Some folks got immediate relief from mouth pain and such in just days after starting the cure tooth decay diet, supposedly. So if I’ve seen absolutely zero improvement in 3 months, what gives me hope for the next 9?
I’m encouraged that nothing has changed, which, compiling all the expert opinions, sounds like that’s realistically what I can hope for, not a true reversal of the cavity such that it would actually refill the enamel.
I definitely want to make sure the lesion is arrested fully though.
Am I willing to keep trying to keep up on butter, raw milk, yogurt, cheese, and FCLO for a year? Sure.
But I don’t know how much I want to spend here – FCLO, butter oil, magnesium supplements, cavity-healing package I put together that I loved for a few months for sure.)…they all would add up to over $1/day quite quickly. That’s hundreds of dollars. (Here’s the
For now, I’m just keeping to a hybrid of the diet – less grains, fewer nuts, FCLO daily, oil pulling, etc., but far from perfection. I’m curious to see what happens at the next X-ray, if I’ve held my own with no further decay or if I’m losing the battle because I backed off. I’m also considering doing a hair analysis test with Lydia to see precisely what minerals might actually be out of balance in my body and supplement in a targeted, individual way instead of just guessing.
We’re having a good experience thus far with my husband’s hair analysis, but I know that step number one will be to get more sleep…and if I’m not willing to do that at this point, it might not be worth bothering to find out the rest, you know?
The Two Tools you Need to Take to EVERY Appointment
The real lesson here isn’t that you might be able to heal your own cavities.
No, it’s actually to remember to always ask questions when you’re at the dentist (also applies to other medical appointments in my personal opinion, from chiropractors to dermatologists to family docs).
The most important duo of questions to ask is always:
- What are the risks of doing what you recommend?
- What are the risks of waiting?
If you’re comfortable with the balance provided by those two answers according to your own capacity for risk and life philosophy, you can choose to adopt a “wait-and-see” policy or seek a second opinion, which may include other professionals and/or doing some of your own research.
My dentist recommended quite a bit of fluoride, topically, on thick braided floss. I hear enough flak even about topical fluoride that I’m also “waiting and seeing” on that and will get another X-ray in 3-6 months to see if I did okay without it or was as idiot.
I get a good vibe from this dentist, even though I’ve only seen him twice, but when I hear comments like this one about the “million dollar club” of dentists, an idea which my hygienist friend somewhat confirmed by saying she hopes her boss never retires because she doesn’t want to work for someone who has a quota of fillings, crowns, etc. to fill.
That tells me that dentists seeking money over patient health and common sense are not only out there but likely the norm rather than the exception.
Like them, I made the bottom line the top line for me.
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.
The crux of this entire series, this entire investigation, is most certainly this: You need a second opinion on your mouth.
Even if that second opinion is simply time.
Supersize that with Surgery
Rather than a side of surgery with my dental cleaning, my next big question that I’ve been putting off for years is what to do about my wisdom teeth.
They’re all still there, and it’s driven many a dentist nuts over the years.
My hygienist friend has a wisdom tooth in a strange situation like one of mine, half in and half out. She is also choosing careful monitoring, and if it’s not causing any problems (decay or crowding the other teeth), then she’s avoiding surgery too.
I happen to have been born without eye teeth, so I have more space in my mouth than most people (on the top at least) so I’m less worried about crowding than many.
For now, particularly because I’m exclusively nursing an infant and will be breastfeeding in some capacity for likely two more years, I’m going to just wait.
They’re not causing a problem yet, and I feel like recovery from wisdom tooth surgery would cause a problem, so I’m going to see what happens.
I’ve seen some recommendations that no one should ever have their wisdom teeth out unless they are actively in a state of decay and although I haven’t looked deeply into my options, I may eventually have to. (Here’s one article to peruse.)
I’d love to hear your wisdom teeth stories:
- Do you have your wisdom teeth out?
- Why did you do it or avoid it?
- Has either the surgery or the teeth caused you any problems?
The rest of the series:
- my plan to heal my cavities
- the anti-cavity meal planning
- interview with Dr. Judene Benoit, author of How to Stop Cavities
- interview with Ramiel Nagel, author of Cure Tooth Decay
- The follow-up X-rays
Here are some oral health and cavity healing resources that people have shared with me that I haven’t been able to share in the first few posts:
- Orawellness free Healthy Mouth Videos
- How to take Vitamin D properly
- The importance of K2 from Chris Kresser
- Good Teeth Birth to Death, a PDF from Gerard F. Judd