Issue #24, February 2009

JoAnne’s Motivational Minute: Self-Renewal

By JoAnne Boettcher-Verigin

Certainly, spring is just around the corner. And now as I walk through my garden, I begin to really plan what I’m going to plant this year – where each plant will go, what they all will look like together. Though I sometimes complain about the amount of work it will take to get the garden looking even close to how it appears in my mind’s eye, I always find the results of this planning and planting to be so worth it.

The human mind has sometimes been described as a garden, where thoughts are seeds. Some can grow into great, beautiful flowers of thought, while others are just scruffy weeds. But just as with a literal garden, we can plan and plant accordingly in the figurative gardens of our minds. Why not plant positive, life-enhancing thoughts?

Source: pbo31/Flickr, CC

As the natural world renews and gives way to new life each spring, so we, too, can participate in self-renewal, and not just in the spring. It’s a habit we can – and perhaps should – practice consistently. As we grow and learn, we can review our way of living along with our values and priorities. But while those may be different for each of us, there are several steps to self-renewal taken by all who pursue that path.

The most important of these is self-care. Sometimes we judge ourselves too harshly – an easy thing to do. Or we become so busy giving to and doing for others that we forget to take care of ourselves. Renewal requires becoming truly present to yourself. Take time to ask yourself, “What do I need?” When we have enough sleep, healthy food, exercise and quiet time, we become much more able to give to and do for others.

In being present to ourselves, we also need to take responsibility for our lives. It just doesn’t work if we shift that responsibility to others.

We also become renewed by sharing our hearts and minds with others. We can’t keep everything buried deep inside. As the poet John Berryman wrote, “We are as sick as we are secret.”

Likewise, renewal means letting go of grudges – old wounds that we sometimes too proudly mistake for honors in battle. This kind of attitude interferes with sleep, digestion and general health. When we forgive, we are freed from the chains of resentment.

Last, and best, renewal means fun! We may enjoy life fully – all of life’s pleasures. We may enjoy our own being as well as that of our friends. (In the words of Thomas Fuller, “Be a friend to thyself, and others will be so, too.”) We can commit ourselves to remembering the things we really love doing and making an effort to participate in those things more.

Such things help the gardens in us bloom and thrive.

Source: ladybugbkt/Flickr, CC

Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow. – Frances Hodgson Burnett

Dr. Verigin’s Comment:
Dental Foci and Early Cancer Detection: Fact or Fantasy?

By Gary M. Verigin, DDS, CTN

Part 1

Searching the Web these days, it’s pretty easy to find a wealth of articles on the important correlations between dentistry and overall body health. Indeed, one of the greatest benefits of the Web is that so much once-obscure information on all sorts of topics is now available to anyone with an Internet connection.

We certainly didn’t get such information in dental school. Like the vast majority of dental students today, we were taught to be tooth mechanics, involved in little more than the repair or removal of teeth in patients who had failed to care for them properly. And although we heavily studied the basic science during the first two years of dental school, there was never any discussion of nutrition. There was never any discussion about the effects that teeth, gums and surrounding bone can have on a person’s overall body health. And no thought at all was given to the roles of mental and emotional health with respect to dentistry.

Dentists were – and largely continue to be – trained as tradespersons, craftspersons little different than builders of homes, highways or cars. Similarly, as one of our clients recently described it, most people view their dentist as a combination of paint shop worker and auto mechanic: “Whatever the dentist does – a crown, implant or what have you – the patient just wants to look good and not hurt.” The implications of jaw bone, root canal and focal infections, as well as the biocompatibility of dental materials, are overlooked.

Source: Dan.Pan./Flickr, CC

Fortunately, more people are recognizing the limitations of this approach, even if industrial dentists aren’t.

It used to be that most of our clients came to us via the referral of a friend, co-worker or relative, or because we were in a convenient location. And if ours was a traditional “drill, fill and bill” sort of practice, this might still be the case. And in that case, you staff your office to cram as many patients as possible into each working day.

Most of our new clients, on the other hand, have already spent a lot of time researching various aspects of physical and dental health, and the relationship between the two. They deliberately choose a non-toxic practice, where mercury will not be placed in their teeth nor fluoride smeared throughout their mouths. They seek a practice where they may be part of the goal-setting and decision-making process for themselves and their children. They want to choose for themselves, embracing their roles as agents of their own well-being.

And so they also want to be able to evaluate our philosophy and practice style. They want to know our background, experience and qualifications, as well as the services we offer. They ask for the URLs of our website and blog. They want to know that what we offer actually meets their criteria. This is what is called a discriminating personality trait.

One aspect of many of our clients’ situations that you see reflected on both our website and blog is that they are experiencing a variety of health issues. They have spent years seeing physicians and dentists who seemingly never communicate with one another. Nor have these practitioners been able to give them any meaningful insight to the potential relation between their declining body health and dental conditions. It’s typical for such a client to have seen from five to eight physicians – and almost as many dentists – in their quest for answers and healing, working roughly by trial and error, and never gaining the satisfaction they so want, need and richly deserve.

There are, of course, many rivaling medical and dental ideologies floating around online. In dentistry, the major battles involve the placement of mercury amalgam fillings in decayed teeth, using root canal therapy to keep non-vital teeth in the mouth, and the use of implants to replace failed root canal or other extracted teeth. Although my views on these issues are clear and I share them with those who seek information, I have never seen it as my role to tell clients what they should or should not do. There are plenty of others out there, on both sides of the issue (pro-orthodox and pro-integrated), screaming dogma.

Yet each of us necessarily brings our own unique intelligence, psychology and experience to any discussion. Information that makes sense to one of us can make another very uncomfortable and angry. What’s most needed then is respect between all concerned.

I remember a conversation I once had with the great dentist Fritz Kramer – one of the key German dentists involved in the proper integration of dentistry and medicine. After I commented on his wisdom, he said, “Socrates once asked the Oracle of Delphi, ‘Who is the wisest doctor in the world?’ The Oracle replied, ‘There is no one wiser than you.’ Socrates was wise enough to know his own ignorance, so he did not boast.”

Dr. Fritz Kramer

Kramer was the most brilliant biological dentist I have ever known, and I will be forever grateful to this giant of a man. He always encouraged us to be perpetual students. He taught us to be very observant of our listening and diagnostic skills – and of differing opinions. “Take the best of each,” he would say, “then rearrange it like furniture in your head, come forth with your own Gestalt and carefully apply what you have learned, making sure you do not adversely affect the health of your patient.”

Perhaps the unhappiest experiences for me come when I do intake interviews with new clients who have serious chronic illnesses such as cancer. Through their own initiative and research, such clients have come to the full realization that their various dental conditions are contributing to their toxic biological terrain – conditions such as the presence of mercury fillings, non-vital root canal teeth and jaw bone infections from past tooth extractions – sometimes extractions that were done years and years ago.

One of the most widely read books by these clients is Cancer: A Second Opinion by Joseph M. Issels, MD, who established the first European hospital for incurable cancer patients. He was also the first to integrate standard and alternative treatements into a comprehensive therapeutic concept.

According to Issels, “A survey conducted at my clinic found that, on admission, ninety-eight percent of the adult cancer patients had between two and ten dead teeth, each one a dangerous toxin producing ‘factory.'” The clear implication is that no dentist had carefully evaluated those people for dental foci – oral sources of infection that affect other areas of and organs in the body.

Issels continues:

Only total, thorough dental treatment will really succeed in giving the body’s defense a chance. The growth of the tumor itself is very often distinctly slowed down by focus treatment. Now and then tumor development stops altogether, and sometimes even regresses. The head foci therefore seem not only to contribute to the development of secondary lesions, to the origin of cancer disease, but also to exert a direct influence on tumor growth by stimulating it. Many tumors seem to respond to immunological therapy only when foci have been removed. The subsequent improvement in the body’s defenses clearly shows itself in the response to immunizing vaccines.

He later makes a very sobering statement:

My own unhappy experience shows that with cancer patients, foci treatment has generally been left to a very late stage. In the vast majority of the patients I have treated, it was quite clear that foci treatment should have been carried out years before and certainly long before the manifestation of the tumors. (Emphasis added)

That this was not done is a sad reminder that far too many doctors and dentists fail to recognize a fundamental fact: untreated foci can be linked to the development of cancer. Undoubtedly, then, early detection of foci by dentists is of the utmost importance.

Previously in Biosis, we’ve looked at the concept of dental foci. Becoming familiar with that content will help you better understand Part 2 of this article, in which we’ll look at the radiographic, histological and biochemical synthesis perspective evidence on the toxic role played by root canals.

Until then, I leave you with the wise and powerful words of Martin Pall, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences at Washington State University, who laid out his new theory of multisystem illnesses in his book Explaining “Unexplained Illnesses” . In it, this world-renowned expert in biological regulatory mechanisms reminds practitioners of what we should never have to be reminded of: “There are tens of millions of people whose lives are severely impacted by these diseases and they are depending on us, whether they know it or not, to do the right thing.”

Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things are yours. – Swedish Proverb

The Call for Preventive Medicine

In the ongoing debates about US health care reform, you hear an increasing number of calls for a shift from crisis-based medicine to preventive medicine. The basic idea is that if we can help more people avoid getting sick in the first place, health care costs will go down.

We agree wholeheartedly.

Unfortunately, conventional ideas about preventive medicine tend to still cost a good amount of money and may in some cases do more harm than good in the long run. This is because so much of the emphasis is being put on medical tests and screenings: mammograms, colonoscopies, prostate tests and so on. (Login bypass for the last two links available via BugMeNot.)

Problem, the first: no such screenings can be said to be truly preventive. At best, they allow earlier detection of problems. At worst, they may actually cause harm.

The case with mammograms is particularly telling in this regard, where the number of cases caused early is overshadowed by the numbers of false positives leading to unnecessary surgery and drug treatment, not to mention future problems aggravated by so many regular exposures to radiation, should one agree to get screened every year after the age of 35, as is generally recommended.

As Maggie Mahar recently wrote in an article republished on AlterNet:

Here are the numbers: In order to prevent one cancer death among women over 55, 250 women have to be screened annually, beginning at age 55. But mammograms will also detect two other women with breast cancer who would not have died of the cancer. “In other words” Hadler says, “the screening will lead to the treatment of three women, for two of whom the treatment is unnecessary.”

“This is the best-case scenario for screening postmenopausal women,” Hadler explains. One out of 250 will be saved, and two out of 250 will be exposed to the risk and worry of treatment without deriving any benefit. Hadler sums up the findings: “Early detection [via a mammogram] makes less sense the older the woman, or the more morbidities [potentially fatal diseases] that she suffers. In such a circumstance, breast cancer is but one of the processes vying for the proximate cause of death and not the most likely to win.”

Moreover, there is no “best-case scenario” for screening younger woman, unless they have a family history of early death from breast cancer. This, Hadler notes, is why “the American College of Physicians believes that the risks of unnecessary biopsies far outweighs the likelihood of saving a life, and therefore does not recommend mammography before age 50 and suggests that women do not need to be screened after age 74. Similarly, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends mammography screening only every one to two years for women age 50-69.

How, exactly, is any of this “medicine” preventive?

Similarly, we can look to industrial dentistry, where – again, in the name of “prevention” – young children are given fluoride treatments and sealants, even as the Journal of the American Dental Association (a big-time fluoride supporter) tells us that there is scant evidence that fluoride supplementation helps prevent cavities in children, and even as sealants have been shown to contain BPA and may contribute to a number of toxic conditions and soft tissue damage in the mouth.

What does a true preventive approach entail?

  1. Follow health-promoting habits – not smoking or taking drugs (prescription or otherwise), getting enough exercise, eating a nutrient-rich diet, and so on.
  2. Reduce exposure to environmental toxins as much as possible.
  3. Keep good oral health and get your teeth cleaned regularly.
  4. Work with your doctor, dentist and other health and wellness providers to create and maintain the best plan of action for keeping you healthy and avoiding the need for treatment of chronic conditions.
  5. Take a conservative and long-vision approach when problems do arise to minimize trauma to the body via treatment.

While making the lifestyle changes needed to support health and wellness can be difficult, even challenging at times, it can be accomplished…and will save a lot of time and money in the long run. To put it another way, you can do whatever you want now and pay later, or you can learn to be conscientious and up the odds that you’ll not have to pay later. It’s that simple.

Consider the example of one of our clients, now a 40 year old woman. Although she knew the risks and possible consequences, she chose to smoke for more than 15 years. This smoking – along with poor dietary choices, a lack of exercise and a lot of unmanaged stress – led to severe bone loss in her jaw, despite healthy-looking gum tissues noted by the several periodontists she saw. Even after she improved the other lifestyle factors, she continued to smoke – to the point where she was counseled that if nothing changed, she would surely lose a lot of teeth sooner rather than later due to the severity of bone loss. So finally, she quit smoking – at which point, a top periodontist agreed to treat her. After several thousands of dollars worth of laser surgery and tissue grafts, the situation in her mouth has finally begun to settle. Her teeth are becoming more stable, and periodontal pockets that were once up to 9 mm. deep are now only 2 or 3. She’s now determined to keep as many of her natural teeth for as long as she possibly can. Still, this resolve has come at quite a cost – a lot of time, energy and money.

With the economy in the state that it’s in, consider: do you really want to be spending your hard-earned dollars on trying to undo the damage of so many years of not caring?

Source: Today is a good day/Flickr, CC

For more articles like this one – plus health news, tips, video and more – visit our blog, Know Thy Health.

Copyright ©. Gary M. Verigin, D.D.S., inc. All Rights Reserved. California State Licensed General Dentist.
Disclaimer: We make no claim of providing superior services, nor do we guarantee any specific outcomes from the services we provide.