Whilst I was in Chanthaburi at the durian festival in Thailand in May last year, I had a quarter of a rear lower molar crumble away. At the time I passed it off as past lifestyle bad habits catching up with me and continued on. Over the last few months my teeth became sensitive and I developed a dull ache in the left side of my jaw. I ignored it for a couple of months until I saw a post on facebook of another 811er having teeth issues. So I went to the dentist - an expensive holistic one in the heart of Melbourne. I had to have an x-ray before seeing him which he viewed before I was called in. He said my teeth overall are severely decayed and in the top 1% of cases in Australia. He said he personally has never seen a patient with such bad decay. This was before he even looked in my mouth. The x-ray showed that most of my rear molars are hollow and on the verge of crumbling. He then proved it to me by gently probing areas of decay which made me cry out in pain. He told me I have to quit the soft drinks, lollies, chocolates, and highly processed sugary foods immediately if I have any chance of saving my teeth. He gave me an estimate of $20,000 to repair the damage done which included a minimum of 3 root canals and 16 large fillings. I left his office in shock.
So I started researching and came to what I consider a solution which is not 100% vegan. In the last 2 and a half weeks I have added a small amount of non-vegan foods to my diet. I won’t discuss that any further here as I respect that this is a vegan forum. I’ve decided to post this here in the hope that a discussion can be initiated.
So what I’d like to ask this community is what have I done wrong and is there a vegan way to correct it? I would like to be 100% vegan but I currently believe that 99% is the way to go. I’m desperate for a solution which has led me down the 1% non-vegan foods path. It was not a decision I made lightly.
Before we start this I’ll tell you a bit about what I have been doing as a raw vegan;
That’s all I can think of at the moment. Ask for anything I may have missed.
I request that only people who have been on this diet for a minimum of 3 years or have a nutritional background reply. The reason being is that at 2 and a half years on 811 I thought my teeth were the best they had ever been and in general I felt amazing. Things only started going downhill a couple of months after that with the crumbling of my first tooth.
Thanks for all the replies and sorry it's taken me awhile to answer questions, I've been entertaining a friend from interstate (also 811 with teeth issues who lives with another 811 with teeth issues) so haven't had much time on the computer in the last few days.
There's been some interesting suggestions especially getting a bone scan and possible liver issues. I'm getting a bone scan on the 4th of July so will let you all know the results of that and will look further into possible liver issues although my liver function tests are fine.
Dental hygiene is a hard one as I have an ex girlfriend friend and have heard before that too much brushing/flossing can lead to receding gums. I currently rinse and brush after every meal but will look into some of the less invasive flosses.
As for my non-vegan consumption, it's limited to invertebrates and some eggs and makes up about 1% of my diet. As far as I can see this is the example nature gives us via our cousin primates and that is where I currently choose to put my faith. Not really interested in debating this.
I agree that fasting could have been the cause of this but I also think that after a year and a half if this diet is the healthiest my body should have been replenishing anything that was depleted. Judging by how I've been feeling I've obviously been lacking something. Since the additions to my diet I've been feeling incredible! Things improved with the B12 shots but still felt pretty average. Feel like I'm thriving for the first time in my life!
So I'm still 99% 811 raw vegan so I hope people can still accept me here. I've been doing this for 3 weeks and will be getting another blood test at the 3 month mark and then another blood test, dental x-ray, and bone density scan at 6 months. So consider this an experiment and hey if it doesn't work I can be the poster boy for what not to do! I can't afford any dental work anyway.
p.s In regards to my weight, I've been around 56kgs for my whole adult life. Within the first few months of 811 I lost 8 kgs and have only put it back on since fasting. So if I was anorexic and fasting is bad then I'm very confused.
Replies are closed for this discussion.
Thanks for sharing, Harrison. Glad you're getting results. I personally am not willing to utilize fluoride or give it to my kids. I remember Listerine (with horror) from my childhood. I had heard that alcohol-based mouthwashes were bad because they dried out the mouth. Sigh... it seems like for every suggestion there's a debate, I suppose.
I have been utilizing a few drops of clove oil in water as a night-time rinse. But no one else in my family is willing to do it. It is also hard to get them to brush well or floss, but I work on it.
I read a mouth wash label the other month. It said 'warning, can lead to dental enamel erosion!'. I will try and get a photo of that one.
I came across something you might be interested in that is natural.
Get a glass jar mason with a lid. put equal amounts of salt and baking soda, add water. Keep in bathroom and rinse mouth out after brushing especially before bed. Swish in between teeth. I've been doing this for a while now and it's good mouthwash.
Hey Harrison, thanks for this post. Very thorough and actionable. I appreciate this. I have one quick question I'd like you to address:
"Anything eaten is going to create an acidic state in the mouth to different degrees depending on what it is"
What about eating a meal of mono greens. Like lettuce or kale. I always thought that a meal like that put your mouth into an alkaline state. Is this not the case?
Thanks again :)
Hey Stephen, I'm really sorry to hear you are going through all this. Sounds awful. I hope we can help you figure this out :-/
Can I ask you a few questions?
* Can you go into detail what your past teeth health was like before this lifestyle? Because I know some cavities can take literally years to develop. Especially to the point of tooth-crumbling.
* I seem to remember somewhere you saying you were a serious alcoholic before this lifestyle? People with alcohol abuse problems have been shown to have a higher incidence of periodontal disease, tooth decay and potentially precancerous oral lesions.
* I know you had some issues getting back into balance (& possibly alkalinity) after your fast, if I remember correctly that it 'took you a long time to get over it'. Can you share more about your fasting experience or link to it? As I think you know I'm not a fan of long water fasts and 35 days is certainly a long one and it seems you had no problems with your teeth until after that. How much water did you drink during your fast? By all means please correct me if I'm wrong but I seem to remember you not drinking much at all at Loren's? The reason I bring up water is because dehydration is one of the biggest causes of dental problems as the PH of the brain is thrown out of balance when dehydrated which then affects saliva production in the mouth.
* Have you ever drunk tap water consistently or was it always filtered?
* The fact that you were 48kgs (clinically anorexic *very* serious) means you needed more calories than you were eating for at least the first 2.5years which can lead to an acidic mouth environment. Also starting a fast at 48kg then going down to what weight was it again? 38kgs at 5'10"? in my eyes isn't the best and would have stressed your delicate system even more. :(
* Have you got a second opinion on your teeth?
Have you tried cloves for the pain? I've heard they are great. I'm of course against you eating animal products as they are just MEGA acid-forming and I know more people with serious teeth problems who eat animal products than not.
My suggestion would banana and greens smoothie island seriously until you no longer feel any pain with plenty of rest, clean water (you may need 6 liters not 3), sunshine, low stress environment. One of our members started to do this and his teeth pain actually went. I'm not sure where he is at now.
I'm glad you've come here to ask for help and suggestions, and want to stay vegan. I hope we can get to the bottom of this.
*Past dental health; great teeth as a child with only a few fillings in my baby teeth. No fillings in my adult teeth that I can recall. At 17 my dentist said he could put my teeth in a catalog they were that perfect. At 19 had wisdom teeth pain for a few months but ignored it. At 25 wisdom teeth pain came back and finally went to the dentist to find I had compacted wisdom teeth. This had pushed all my teeth closer together slightly twisting some especially in the bottom front. Had wisdom teeth out but required no other dental work. Have had no pain or sensitivity till May last year when my tooth crumbled at 37 years of age. Started getting a dull ache in my left side of the jaw in March this year and increased sensitivity. Got to a point a month ago where I was having trouble chewing even a salad so 3 weeks ago I went to the dentist. Earlier this week my second molar crumbled.
*Alcohol: I was a heavy social drinker from 23 to 34. I never would drink alone but I went out a lot. No way near the worst of my friends but still quite a lot. By the end of it I considered my self an alcoholic but in inner city Melbourne I was the norm for my age group.
*Fast; Took me a year to get over it. I drunk 3 liters a day minimum which was task just to be a able to drink that much when you're that weak. It's hard enough to breath. I was constantly drinking. I blogged the whole fats on here if you need any more info.
* filtered water since 23
* Weight: I was 56kgs before 811 and with in 3 months had dropped down to 48kgs eating 3500 calories logged on nutridiary religiously for the first year. I've always eaten as much as I could on this diet and it made no different to my weight. I dropped to 39kgs on the fast but quickly got up over 50kgs in the months following. The fast made it easier for me to put on weight.
* Second opinions on dental work are expensive. The x-ray clearly shows the extent of decay and the pain he gave me with his gentle probing convinced me he was not making it up.
No need for cloves for pain as In the last two weeks since adding a few non-vegan foods to my diet the pain is gone but my teeth still feel fragile so chewing is still not good. I have no idea why the pain has gone and am not saying it's due to the additions I've made, it's just an observation.
Thanks Stephen for all this detail it helps :)
Warning this is a loooong post, hopefully you can find some pearls in it!
So I just had a look over your previous blogs etc to try to find a reason why all this may be happening.
Something that hasn't been mentioned before that I can see (which I think is extremely important) is in one of your early discussions on 30BaD you said "before 811 I had bleeding gums for years." Also in a blog here you say "my gums would bleed every time I brushed my teeth"
To me that seems pretty serious and from my research it is a sure sign of gum disease and quoting a dentist "gum disease is the primary cause of tooth loss".
Bleeding gums is also a side affect of alcoholism. As you also said in a past discussion that you had never done a gig sober in the last 20 years (before 811) having several beers a night and were 'suicidally alcoholic'. Of course not judging you as I came from a past of drugs and alcohol myself but 20 years is an awfully long time to abuse alcohol and not suffer significant and possibly long term consequences. Also dehydration associated with the alcoholism is a sure way to throw your PH level in your mouth off which subsequently affects your saliva production. Saliva prevents tooth erosion by neutralizing acids, washing them away from the tooth surface, and re-mineralizing teeth. If we don't have enough saliva in our mouths then erosion will begin.
The protective role of saliva
A dry mouth significantly increases the risk of tooth decay. This is because saliva:
- Contains components that can directly attack decay causing bacteria
- Has anti-fungal properties
- Helps to destroy viruses
- Neutralises the acids produced by plaque
- Contains phosphorus and calcium. These substances are vital to the ongoing process of remineralisation, which is the rebuilding of tooth enamel (the hard surface layer that protects the tooth)
- Moistens food, which enables comfortable swallowing
- Helps with the formation of particular sounds in speech
- Boosts sensation inside the mouth and allows, for example, the experience of pain, food texture and taste.
Personally I think it's rarely just one thing but a chain of events that lead us to health challenges. This past issue of alcoholism plus having an anorexic BMI for over 2 years in my mind could easily lead to serious teeth problems and bone loss in the future. We always have to pay in some way for our past abuses. If your weight was only 48kgs for that long it also suggests that you were nowhere near meeting your required calorie intake (even if you were eating 3000 cals or more) you may have needed more or were experiencing malabsorption or even worms. The fact that you said you stopped counting calories years ago also could have left you open to under eating and not realising it (I've done this myself a number of times). This in turn will of course lead to deficiencies of all sorts and yes including phosphorus and a whole host of vitamins and minerals essential in the health of our teeth. Is it due to the imbalance of calcium to phosphorus or just straight out a lack of vitamins and minerals/calories in general?
Being faced with such a serious diagnosis I would definitely get a second opinion. Ugh man that sucks about the cost but I really still would get one. Not saying your dentist is overdoing it on the recommendations BUT I found this interesting quote from a dentist.
"Some dentists want to fill each little groove on the chewing surface of your teeth. I have had patients in my practice that came from clinics and were told they had a lot of cavities and there were NONE"
So based on the information available, to *me* it seems everything has come to a head. That previous teeth problems may have been initiated by years of alcohol abuse (& associated dehydration) and have been developing and exacerbated by a maintained anorexic state. Teeth problems are known to take many years to manifest.
So what's the solution?
My advice (which obviously you can take or leave!) is what I have said earlier about bananas and greens/celery smoothies for several weeks then reintroducing other fruits and keeping fat intake low of course. I know you haven't counted calories for years so it would require of course studious logging of calories and water intake just to make sure because going 'by feel' can often leave us undercarbed and dehydrated. Brushing with a gentle brush and water once or twice (max) a day and using a waterpik.
Also I agree with PK that getting a bone density test is really important, you could get a dexascan which will tell you this plus your muscle and fat mass plus how much water you have in your body.
Hopefully I've provided some food for thought. Please understand I am really feeling for you here as I know teeth problems can be really awful as I had them when I was anorexic and bulimic. Wishing you the best x
+1 Freelee, The Banana Girl
+2 Freelee, seems like a likely scenario.
20 years is not correct. If I wrote that in a previous post it was a typo. I only had my first drink at 16 and didn't get into to heavy drinking till I was 22 and stopped at 34. Also I said almost suicidal alcoholic.
So if you guys thought I was anorexia for all that time why did you not say anything? I spent time with you both on quite a few occasions during that time. Harley even commented that it's good to see someone who eats enough and convinced me that I wasn't too skinny as I was the perfect weight for marathon running.
I stopped counting calories as I had an idea of how much calories were in the typical meals I ate. I disagree that I didn't eat or drink enough on this diet.
Getting a second opinion on my teeth is a waste of time and money because it's very obvious that I have severe decay.
Yes my gums would bleed before 811 but now they're bleeding even worse for the last year.
As for your solution you're saying to just keep doing what I'm doing in advising banana and green smoothies. This has failed to restore my health since my fast so I don't see how continuing to do so will help.
I appreciate some of the advice you've given, and one piece caught my attention:
"dehydration is one of the biggest causes of dental problems as the PH of the brain is thrown out of balance when dehydrated which then affects saliva production in the mouth."
Can you share your sources for this and elaborate a bit? it seems fascinating, and could be of great importance.
These links might be of interest to you. It does seem, no matter what the diet, that chronic dehydration can cause acidity and or oral problems.
I am sorry you might have to copy and paste because suddenly I do not have access to the link option:(
This one looks promising, but I have not had time to review the science...